Cherished cenotaph is moved to new home as derelict Penhill RBL building faces demolition (From Swindon Advertiser)
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Cherished cenotaph is moved to new home as derelict Penhill RBL building faces demolition
THE cenotaph , which has stood outside the former Penhill Royal British Legion club for more than 40 years, was re-sited yesterday, ahead of proposals to demolish the derelict building which stood behind it.
The RBL building in Downton Road closed in August 2010, but was only returned to Swindon Council’s ownership at the start of this month, giving the green light for plans be drawn up for how the site might be used.
Mike Ash, the head of housing at the council, is due to arrange a meeting with Penhill’s ward councillors when they will put forward their suggestions for how the plot could be used.
Whatever the plan, which will be ecided after a full public consultation, demolition of the building is a likely first step.
And members of the RBL’s Penhill branch have had to move quickly to save the cenotaph.
Tim O’Sullivan, 52, of Avebury Avenue, was the last official secretary of the RBL club, but remains a current member of the Penhill branch of the charity.
He was on-site yesterday as a small crane was brought in to remove the memorial and deliver it to St Peter’s Church, in Penhill Drive.
He said: “The cenotaph is very important to the people of Penhill.
“Even though the Legion closed, we had almost 50 people attend the last Remembrance Sunday.
“All credit to the people of Penhill, for 40 years no-one has touched it. That shows respect for what it represents.
“It was paid for by members of the Penhill branch of the Royal British Legion.
“They held all sorts of events to build part of the building – the RBL club – and the memorial.
“This cenotaph is owned by the people of Penhill.”
The original memorial will be retained and rebuilt at St Peter’s Church at cost of almost £6,000.
Tim and his wife secured a £2,500 grant for the work from the War Memorials Trust and the Royal British Legion has agreed to cover the remaining cost.
Tim says there are plans to hold a rededication service at the church in the near future.
Now the future of the cenotaph has been secured, attention is likely to turn to how the existing large plot of land in Downton Road will be put to use by the council.
“We must gain from anything built there, money must come into the council coffers.”
Roger Saunders, 64,who lives next door to the former RBL building in Downton Road, said: “I’d like to see more old people’s bungalows.
“I have had friends waiting years to be housed, so I’d be happy with that.
“The building definitely needs to be demolished though.”
Tim said he would like to see a community facility on the site of the former social club.
He said: “Penhill needs a social club and a facility which can be used by them every day of the week, without any red tape.”
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