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Police patrols as Norfolk monument to Nelson set to stay shut this summer

PUBLISHED: 08:15 08 July 2020

Open day at the Nelson Monument, Yarmouth. 
Guide, Glen Johnstone at the top of the monument. Its custodian has confirmed it is likely to stay shut this year Picture: Nick Butcher

Open day at the Nelson Monument, Yarmouth. Guide, Glen Johnstone at the top of the monument. Its custodian has confirmed it is likely to stay shut this year Picture: Nick Butcher

Archant © 2008

As one monument to Nelson is targeted by vandals another is likely to remain closed for the summer, it has emerged.

Trafalgar Day Memorial Service at Nelsons Monument, Great Yarmouth, 
October 2011. Police are monitoring the statue amid fears for its safety 

Picture: James BassTrafalgar Day Memorial Service at Nelsons Monument, Great Yarmouth, October 2011. Police are monitoring the statue amid fears for its safety Picture: James Bass

The Norfolk Naval Pillar, or Britannia Monument, at Great Yarmouth’s South Denes, is set to be declared off limits to heritage buffs looking to climb its hundreds of steps.

Kerry Robinson-Payne, the monument’s custodian, said a change in management and the impact of coronavirus meant this summer’s schedule had been paused.

Heightened tensions around race and heritage and questions about Admiral Lord Nelson’s position on the slave trade meant there were also concerns about vandalism.

In response the former Great Yarmouth mayor who represents Labour’s Nelson ward said volunteer patrols had been stepped up with friends of the pillar doing their bit to defend it by keeping watch.

Trafalgar Day Memorial Service at Nelsons Monument, Great Yarmouth. October 2011. Statues celebrating the lives of some historical figures, like Nelson, have become controversial  Picture: James BassTrafalgar Day Memorial Service at Nelsons Monument, Great Yarmouth. October 2011. Statues celebrating the lives of some historical figures, like Nelson, have become controversial Picture: James Bass

She said there were concerns for the monument but that in Yarmouth people had been respectful and protecive of the 144ft pillar which predates the column in Trafalgar Square.

The attitude in the town was: “It’s ours and we would go mad if anyone touches it,” she added.

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Norfolk Police confirmed officers were monitoring the statue as part of their regular patrols in the area

Views over Yarmouth from the top of the Nelson monument.
 The statue is likely to be closed this summer for a range of reasons including the impact of Covid-19 Picture: Nick ButcherViews over Yarmouth from the top of the Nelson monument. The statue is likely to be closed this summer for a range of reasons including the impact of Covid-19 Picture: Nick Butcher

Normally the pillar would open on a Sunday for people to go up two at a time.

But with the closure of the Nelson Museum and the long shadow of uncertainty cast by coronavirus, it seemed unlikely that would happen this year.

News of its continued closure comes as a statue of Nelson in The Close at Norwich Cathedral was sprayed with black graffiti.

The damage was reported to the police and Norwich City Council, and the dean and chapter of Norwich Cathedral said it was “committed to reviewing the place of historical figures memorialised”.

Trafalgar day memorial service at the Memorial to Admiral Lord Nelson, Yarmouth with The East Coast Militia Picture:  Nick ButcherTrafalgar day memorial service at the Memorial to Admiral Lord Nelson, Yarmouth with The East Coast Militia Picture: Nick Butcher

Ms Robinson-Payne said all the Nelson ward councillors were “extremely proud of the monument and where it stands.

“It really came from the people of Norfok and it is a big honour to have had it placed here,” she added.

In terms of the attitude to Nelson “Yarmouth does not seem to be quite like Norwich,” she said.

In the city there was a bid to change the name of the council’s Nelson ward, a move that was fiercely resisted in the resort.


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