Community rallies to save Rodney's Pillar which could crumble 'in two years' without £160,000 restoration
Pillars of the community have banded together to save one of Shropshire's most famous tourist attractions which could crumble within two years.
The Save Rodney's Pillar group held a lively open meeting at Llandrinio Village Hall to discuss how to raise the £160,000 it is believed will be needed to save the monument from collapsing.
An initial survey has been done by experts who looked at it from the base and using a drone to assess damage further up the 54ft structure, and it is believed with bad weather conditions, the pillar could collapse in a couple of years.
Rodney's Pillar, on top of the Breidden Hill, in Criggion on the Shropshire/Powys border, was built in 1782 to commemorate the naval victories of Sir George Brydges Rodney, Admiral of the White.
Over the years it has been the destination for millions of walkers, runners, families, cadets and Duke of Edinburgh teams.
Marriage proposals have been made and charity fundraising events have beaten a path to its base.
More than 200 years later, worrying cracks and a bulge have sparked fears that its future could be in doubt.
There is a more pressing fear that, with its lightning conductor stolen a few years ago, a lightning strike could see it come crashing down.
Around 30 people packed one of the functions rooms at the village hall and engaged in an enthusiastic discussion about ways the group can make money and raise awareness.
Bill Lee, chairman of the group, said: "We need to raise an awful lot of money for this project, but in order to get the big grants, we need to start raising smaller amounts in the community.
"We need to make people aware of what we're trying to do and let the organisations that grant the funding know people care.
"It's amazing how far and wide people come from to go up Rodney's Pillar. It's obviously a significant figure and monument."
Building expert Mal Arthur explained how the group won't be sure on exactly how much money is needed until a more detailed survey is done, but there is a genuine fear that adverse weather could further deteriorate the structure and bring it down within a couple of years.
He said: "The initial survey said its only got a couple of years.
"We don't know enough about the structure. It might be that it's hollow inside and that it can be stitched together, or it might be solid.
"If we get a bad frost and water gets inside, expands and turns to ice, I do worry that it could become more damaged."
Mr Arthur added that he had made contact with people in the building trade that may be able to offer their help.
The group are now planning to set up a number of fundraising and awareness events to drum up the momentum to secure big grants.
Realistically, it is unlikely any work will go ahead on the monument before summer 2021.