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Conservation of the Maiwand Lion

By March 22, 2023No Comments
The statue of the lion with scaffolding and sheeting around the plinth.

Reading Borough Council has appointed Cliveden Conservation to carry out conservation work to Reading’s most iconic monument, the Maiwand Lion, which stands proudly within the recently restored Forbury Gardens, a Victorian town garden.

Over the coming weeks, conservators will carry out the following schedule of work:
• Carefully removing two bronze plaques to allow for stone repairs
• Cleaning and waxing of the bronze plaques
• Repairing indents in areas of the plinth
• Removing any vegetation around the plinth
• Thorough cleaning of the statue and plinth
• Raking out and repointing of open joints.

The cast iron statue, which commemorates the dead of the 66th (Berkshire) Regiment in the Afghan War (1879-81), was sculpted by George Blackall Simonds who based his research on real life lions. At the time of its unveiling in 1886, the Maiwand Lion was the biggest statue of a standing lion in the world, measuring 31ft from nose to tail and weighing around 16 tonnes.

George Simonds also created the Queen Victoria Jubilee Statue which will undergo conservation treatment this spring by Cliveden Conservation as part of a series of High Street Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) funded monument cleaning and conservation projects. Other monuments which are part of the programme of works include the Jubilee Cross, the Zinzan Tomb in St Mary’s churchyard, and the Simeon Monument in Market Place.

For several years, Cliveden Conservation has also been working to restore, protect and conserve the Abbey Ruins. Lewis Proudfoot, Managing Director of Cliveden Conservation feels honoured to have the opportunity to safeguard more of Reading town’s heritage treasures:
“We are proud of our long-standing working relationship with Reading Borough Council, and this is yet another project through which we can make a lasting contribution to the heritage of the town. The Maiwand Lion is a hugely iconic statue, and it is a privilege to be working on such an important landmark for the people of Reading.”

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