Forgotten jubilee mosaic takes up pride of place in St Neots

The jubilee mosaic is now in place in St Neots

The jubilee mosaic is now in place in St Neots - Credit: Archant

A memorial to mark the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II has been installed in St Neots - nearly 20 years late.

The forgotten jubilee mosaic, which measures about four metres in diameter, was about to be dumped when it was rediscovered on a factory shelf in the town where it had been stored.

It now takes up pride of place in its proposed spot in the Jubilee Garden, near the river bridge, which had been used as a flower bed.

The base of the mosaic had even been used by skateboarders and signs and a camera were put up to stop them.

Former mayor Cllr Barry Chapman, who was instrumental in getting the mosaic installed, has received a letter from a lady-in-waiting at Windsor Castle after writing to the Queen saying the memorial was now in place.

It said: “The Queen was touched by the sentiments you have expressed on behalf of the local branch of the Royal Society of St George, the town council and all the people of St Neots.

“Her Majesty was delighted to hear that, having been put into storage and overlooked for many years, the artwork has been rediscovered and installed in a garden setting and is now accessible to the whole community.”

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Cllr Chapman said: “Some people say it is embarrassing that it has only just been installed. I think it would be more embarrassing if it had been put in the bin.

“In a few years time the delay will be forgotten about.”

The circular mosaic was designed by artist Melanie Goldsmith and is made up from thousands of specially made tesserae - small mosaic tiles - and was commissioned in 2001 by a group specially set up to mark the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, with heritage funding coming from central government.

Cllr Chapman said the Jubilee Garden was built to hold the mosaic but that in 2002 concerns were voiced about the suitability of the site near the river and adhesives capable of fixing it in place.

The jubilee group was later dissolved and the mosaic was put into storage at a local firm where it was left gathering dust.

Cllr Chapman said a representative of the group subsequently left his base at the firm and there was no-one left who knew about the mosaic and where it was. It had come close to being scrapped.

Cllr Chapman said that after hearing about the mosaic he discovered where it was and tracked down the artist.

“It was one of those things I wanted to get done. I don’t like loose ends,” he said. “I has now been installed and it is quite the centrepiece.”

Mosaic experts were called in over the memorial, with the town council being involved in funding the installation.