Date issued: 10 July 2020
Colchester Borough Council has joined forces with several local heritage champions to secure a deal to purchase a 53-metre section of the town’s Roman Wall, after it was put up for sale.
This collaborative approach has made it possible for the council to strike a deal and ensure this nationally-important heritage asset is preserved for the people of Colchester for the next 2000 years and beyond.
Philip Wise, Colchester Borough Council’s Heritage Manager, said: “While the sale of the Roman Wall at Middleborough has naturally caused a great deal of local concern, it would never have endangered its status as a protected monument. Any development or other activity affecting the wall would still require Scheduled Monument Consent, which is granted by the Secretary of State acting on the advice of Historic England.
“Nonetheless, its purchase by the council with the support of local heritage organisations ensures that its future is secure and it can be managed for the benefit of local people.”
Cllr Mark Cory, Leader of the Council, said: “I would like to thank the public for their vigilance in seeking to safeguard this substantial section of the Roman Wall. So many people got in touch – I can’t name them all.
“The council takes its role of protecting the Roman Walls very seriously and I felt we must act in this case. We contacted the agents and agreed a deal to ensure we keep the wall safe. Special thanks go to those local heritage organisations and individuals whose generosity will help return this piece of the wall to the people of Colchester.
“I’m immensely proud of our work to safeguard and promote our rich Roman past. Colchester Borough Council has spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on the wall and on our heritage in recent years, including repairs to the section along Middleborough in 2016-17 and the careful work to remove vegetation from the wall undertaken recently in line with our partnership agreement with Historic England.
“This, along with several other heritage projects including lighting up the wall, is reassurance if ever it were needed that we are absolutely committed to protecting the town’s unique history for posterity and for a Better Colchester.”
Cllr Julie Young, Portfolio Holder for Culture & Performance and Deputy Leader of the Council, added: “Colchester’s Roman Wall provides residents and visitors with perhaps the most stunning visual reminder of the long and momentous past that is woven into the fabric of our town and which most vividly defines its unique status as Britain’s first city.
“As custodians of such a unique and irreplaceable monument, we are committed to its protection, preservation and enhancement for the benefit of current and future generations.
“My thanks, also, to JCDecaux for working with the council to achieve this happy outcome.”
Advertising firm JCDecaux had planned to auction its interest in the 2,000-year-old monument along Middleborough but following further negotiations has instead agreed to conclude its sale to the council, supported by key partners, for the £5000 auction guide price along with costs. The negotiations follow widespread concern that the Scheduled Ancient Monument should be in public ownership and secured for the people of Colchester.