AN URGENT appeal has been launched to restore a crumbling monument honouring the Royal Navy’s greatest hero.
For more than two centuries the Nelson Monument has stood proudly atop Portsdown Hill overlooking the Solent.
But now history lovers from the Nelson Society have raised concerns about the state of the historic monolith.
Group members claim the bust of Admiral Lord Nelson, at the very top of the 120ft pillar, is in a dire state and needs a facelift.
Nelson Society member Jane Smith, of Southsea, has now launched a public appeal to raise money to help fund the renovation work. Her plea comes after the nation marked the 214th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar.
Speaking to The News, she said: ‘Because the bust is so high, people can’t see what the damage is. So it’s very hard to make a case for it.
‘It has seen a real deterioration over the past few years. A chunk of Nelson’s nose has come off. It’s so exposed to the elements it’s beginning to deteriorate badly.’
However, defence sources have said there is confusion over who owns the land of the structure and claim any such restoration work could only be approved by the landowner.
Work to maintain the site was previously the responsibility of the former HMS Dryad base.
However, after the site shut and HMS Collingwood absorbed its maritime responsibilities, it became ‘less clear’ as to who would look after the monument, an insider said.
The News understands the land is now owned by the Ministry of Defence's Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO).
One insider said: ‘It’s an extremely complicated situation. The monument does need some minor repairs. But it’s not entirely clear who owns the land.’
The memorial was completed in 1809 in honour of Admiral Lord Nelson’s victory – and sacrifice – at the Battle of Trafalgar on October 21, 1805.
The famed naval leader was killed during the battle after being shot by a sniper. He died on the deck of his flagship HMS Victory.
The monument features a stone carving of Nelson near its top, who is looking in the direction of the battleground.
Mrs Smith said the last time the monument was renovated was in 2005 as part of the 200th anniversary commemorations of the Battle of Trafalgar.
She added: ‘The bust is extremely important. It’s a very interesting and appropriate version of Nelson’s appearance. It must be preserved.
‘There’s a lot more to this monument than meets the eye and I think it’s very important to preserve this piece of history.’
To support the campaign by the Nelson Society, see www.nelson-society.com
The News has approached DIO for comment.