WORK to restore two famous Bromsgrove gravestones is well underway and could be completed later this year, it has been revealed.
The gravestones of railwaymen Thomas Scaife and Joseph Rutherford were erected in the churchyard next to St John’s Church, in Kidderminster Road, in 1842, following the pair’s tragic deaths at Bromsgrove Railway Station.
On them are images of Norris engines, and on Scaife’s stone is a poem which was written by an unknown friend of his, which paid tribute.
Last July the Advertiser reported conservation work had begun after a restoration group, sitting under St John’s Church’s Bromsgrove Fabric Committee, successfully managed to raise the £10,000 needed for the project.
Several private individuals and organisations contributed to the project including the Railway Heritage Trust, Cross Country Trains, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Bromsgrove Society and the Len Giles Trust.
After the stones were removed from the churchyard they were taken to the New Road workshop of town craftsman Mike Ford, who has been commissioned to undertake the work to return them to pristine condition.
The two gravestones have stood for more than 170 years and suffered many incidents of vandalism, so it is providing painstaking work.
Letters on the stones are having to be carefully recut, as they had eroded away, while many layers of paint are being cleared away to take them back to their original, as-cut condition.
Alastair Moseley, the restoration group’s chairman, explained the project was being overseen by a dedicated group of historians and enthusiasts.
“The gravestones are one of Bromsgrove’s most notable landmarks and a town tourist attraction,” Alastair said.
“Both of the stones have been broken and repaired over the years, and are both currently in three pieces.
“Mike is using stainless steel dowels, epoxy resins and stainless steel reinforcement to ensure that when they are reassembled, they will be robust enough to last another 170 years.”
Alastair said it was hoped work would be completed by the end of this summer, as long as there are no unforeseen problems emerging in the meantime.
The chairman added discussions on how damage to the stones can be prevented, after they are re-erected, were now taking place.
There have also been suggestions the stones' heritage could be celebrated as part of their unveiling, and organisers are considering fund-raising to be able to do this.
The committee are welcoming donations, email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.