Glassby Arch Unveiling

The unique and nationally important Glassby Arch, by Mexborough born, Robert Glassby “sculptor to the Queen” is to be unveiled in Mexborough following its restoration and relocation.

Photo Credit: Ron James

The unveiling on Friday 6 November at 12 noon will be the first time in nearly a decade that the arch will be on display to the public, at its new location at the side of Mexborough Almshouses. Over the last few years the condition of the arch has deteriorated as a result of previous ownership, threatening the future of this Grade 2 structure.

The Gothic arch, approximately 5m high, is intricately carved containing dragons, gargoyles, skulls and other figures. It stood in the grounds of John Reed’s house in Market Street, Mexborough until 1968 when it was moved to Fern Villa, Church Street due to the construction of Mexborough bypass. A condition of it being moved was that it remained the property of the people of Mexborough and visible at all times. Unfortunately, with the demolition of Fern Villa and the construction of a new house in 2007 it was no longer visible and it also fell into disrepair.

It was during this period of ownership that the National Crime Agency seized the house, grounds and arch as part of a Civil Recovery Order resulting from investigations into alleged drug dealing and money laundering. In 2014, the National Crime Agency gifted the arch to the Mexborough Charity Trust and the people of Mexborough in perpetuity. The Trust was successful in obtaining funding from the Dearne Valley Landscape Partnership who were keen to support the restoration, reassembly and relocation of this historic structure.

The Mexborough Charity Trust has worked over a number of years to secure the future of the historic arch. Now, thanks to the arch being gifted to the Trust by the National Crime Agency and funding from the Dearne Valley Landscape Partnership, through the Heritage Lottery Fund, the arch has been restored to its former glory and given what is hoped will be its last home.

This is the first major project funded by the Dearne Valley Landscape Partnership (of which Barnsley Council is the lead partner) as part of its five year programme of work focusing on the heritage and environment of the Dearne Valley.

The arch will be officially unveiled on Friday 6 November at 12 noon, at the arch’s new location Mexborough Almshouses, Church Street, Mexborough. There will be short speeches from the Mexborough Charity Trust, Dearne Valley Landscape Partnership and the National Crime Agency.

Giles Brearley, Trustee of The Mexborough Charity Trust said: “The future of the arch had to be secured and the prospect of saving the monument for future generations to enjoy and siting it at Robert Glassby’s birthplace seemed to be a double achievement. It has been a long hard task to effect but it was worth the effort”.

Andy Lewis from the National Crime Agency said: “The arch has had a dramatic history and that carried on even after we seized it as part of our civil recovery investigation. The NCA will use all its powers to pursue the assets of criminals, but we are usually talking about cars, houses, jewellery and bank accounts. We don’t often take possession of something which is so clearly meaningful to a community and we are really glad to have had the opportunity to help return it where it belongs.”

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