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Restoration of the Montagu Sea Bathing Pavilion Plaque

19/10/2021

The following account traces the timeline in relation to the restoration of the Montagu Pavilion plaque in 2019 to its eventual restoration in 2021.

October 2019

The restoration of the plaque began through a casual conversation during one of the school Victorian Walks organised by the Ministry of Heritage which included a stop outside the Stagnetto Tobacco shop at No. 43, Main Street. Mr. Albert Stagnetto would often explain to the children some of the aspects of his shop and warehouses dating back to the late Victorian and early Edwardian era.

It was because of this contact that Mr. Keith Sheriff of the Ministry of Heritage asked Mr. Stagnetto if the patio between his two shops still preserved the old Victorian era patio pump. The answer was no, but that he knew where the pieces had been stored and that he would locate, and restore the pump back to its original location.

The following week, Albert informed Keith that he had still not located the pump mechanism within his store, but that he had happened upon a peculiar discovery – the original Montagu Pavilion plaque dated 15th May 1930. This led to the obvious question – how did this plaque end up in a store in Parliament Lane?

The answer was simple – in 1988, as part of the huge reclamation project initiated by the GSLP Government it was intended to demolish the iconic Montagu pavilions, now rendered obsolete because of the land reclamation. This led to the plaque being removed pending disposal.

However, prior to its intended demolition and whilst the interior was being gutted, Mr. Albert Stagnetto arrived with the intention of removing and transporting some of the beams lying around the site for use at his store at Parliament Lane. It was at this point that Mr. Stagnetto spotted the plaque amongst the rubbish, and thankfully decided to salvage it.

Meanwhile, the decision to demolish the iconic Montagu façade was halted and later rescinded following mounting public pressure but by then the whereabouts of the original plaque could no longer be traced. Subsequently, the old Montagu Pavilion was restored and converted into offices. The plaque, however, would remain preserved stored and forgotten in the store at Parliament Lane for the next 30 years.

With the discovery of this historical artefact, Mr. Stagnetto did not hesitate to return the plaque to the care of the Ministry for Heritage for its eventual restoration back to its original location.

November 2019

The plaque was retrieved from the storage at Parliament Lane and taken into the care of the Ministry for Heritage.

Montagu Sea Bathing Pavilion plaque before restoration.

January 2020

The plaque is taken for restoration. The old black background and silver lettering is now replaced with a royal blue background and gold lettering, which would be more aesthetically compatible with the present façade.

 

February 2020

Contact with STM Group PLC, owners of the Montagu Pavilion is established who kindly agree to the placement of the plaque on their exterior façade.

The newly restored plaque with royal blue background and gold lettering.

March 2020

As the 15th May 2020 would mark the 90th anniversary of the opening of the Sea Bathing Pavilion by General Sir Alexander J. Godley, this date is pencilled in as the date for unveiling the restored plaque.

However, Gibraltar enters into lockdown and all projects are suspended.

May 2021

Plans to restore the plaque on the 15th May is again delayed due to a number of ongoing projects.

Mr. Ian Balestrino pf the Heritage Trust informs the Ministry for Heritage of an old Fire Brigade plaque found outside Gavino’s Passage, which was in the process of being restored by Mr. Andrew Rowbottom. Permission was sought to place the restored plaque outside the Government Offices in Town Range where an original Fire Brigade plaque had gone missing.

During this ongoing process, Mr. Ian Balestrino agreed that the Heritage Trust could also take responsibility for the replacement of the Montagu Pavilion plaque and the Dragon’s Teeth plaque which was had also been restored by the Ministry for Heritage.

September 2021

The Heritage Trust retrieve the plaque from the offices of the Ministry for Heritage.

The STM Group PLC are informed of the restoration of the plaque.

October 2021

Following a site meeting by Ian Balestrino, Andrew Rowbottom and Keith Sheriff, the placement of the plaque is agreed.

The plaque is finally restored on the 18th October.