Badges Maintenance 1950s

Badges Maintenance 1950s

Maintenance in the 21st Century

How we maintain the badges

The Badges are maintained in June each year. As the Badges are Scheduled National Monuments the maintenance programme is authorised by Historic England. The process has 3 stages: weeding each badge, re-chalking those that require it and finishing with several applications of herbicide (‘Pistol’) to keep the weeds down for as long as possible. The badges are also strimmed 3 times a year: prior to maintenance, before the Drumhead Service and again later if the grass has grown significantly.

WS14-maintenanceThe Badges are re-chalked on a rotational basis – usually every three years – although sometimes this can be extended to four years. Thus, each year at least two, usually three, badges are re-chalked. Before re-chalking each badge is carefully re-edged with a spade to retain the detail. Re-chalking involves moving the delivered chalk (~20 tonnes per badge) to smaller temporary dumps on the hillside by dumper truck. It is then loaded into powered caterpillar-tracked barrows and taken down the long steep incline, to the badge. The chalk is then distributed using manual wheelbarrows and buckets, and then carefully placed on the badge and tamped into shape.

For several years, following very wet winters, some chalk has been washed down the hillside from the original shape of the badges – especially along the long horizontal sections – creating “dribbles” of chalk.  A very successful experiment has been carried out since 2014 that involves installing white uPVC revetting boards along the underside of these sections, to counteract this effect of the winter weathering process.  We are indebted to Swish (the curtain rail manufacturers) for their generous donation of the boarding.

Typically, over the course of three years, each badge will have been re-chalked once and maintained twice. The average total maintenance cost for a typical badge over this period is over £11,000 plus VAT, which indicates an average cost per badge per year of approaching £4,000 plus VAT. The annual cost of maintenance for all eight badges is currently around £32,000 plus VAT. Fortunately, we are able currently to reclaim VAT via the Memorials Grant Scheme but this is not guaranteed and the scheme may well be terminated when the current funding period finishes in 2020.

The Australian Government Department of Veterans’ Affairs generously provides us with a grant annually that covers the cost of maintaining the Australian Commonwealth Military Forces Badge, and the Royal Signals Benevolent Fund also generously provide us with a grant to cover the costs of maintaining the Royal Signals Badge. We currently receive some grants from other sources but none of these is guaranteed. We extend our sincere thanks to all these funders.

However, without the help of members of the Fovant Badges Society, generous members of the public and local business support we could not continue to maintain the Badges for long.

The best way to help us to maintain these unique War Memorials so that they can be enjoyed by future generations is to make a donation to the society or better still by joining the Fovant Badges Society

You may be interested in this British Pathe film from 1963 showing how the badges were maintained.

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