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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 June, 2004, 10:32 GMT 11:32 UK
Grimy Marble Arch given facelift
Marble Arch
The restored Marble Arch "shimmers" when the sun shines
Central London's Marble Arch is back in the public eye after a three-month operation to repair it and clean off more than a century of city grime.

The 75,000 project to restore the monument has included re-carving broken details, bronzing the gates and lanterns and cleaning the marble.

English Heritage said it was part of a plan to regenerate the busy area.

The arch was built to celebrate the defeat of Napoleon and first stood at a Buckingham Palace courtyard entrance.

But it was moved in 1851 to become an entrance to Hyde Park, where the Great Exhibition was taking place.

Before 1902, it also served as one of London's smallest police stations.

Detail on Marble Arch
Damaged carvings have been restored and the marble cleaned up
Now the bronze centre gates and the lanterns that illuminate the monument have been repaired and re-bronzed, and the metal work of the side gates has been repainted and glossed.

Phillip Davies, of English Heritage, said without the work to restore the original appearance of the arch, it would have begun to crumble.

He told BBC London: "We very carefully cleaned the marble, so it is has brought out the real colour and really shimmers in the London sunshine.

"A lot of missing detail has been repaired, reinstated and re-carved and the spectacular bronze gates at the centre of the arch have been re-bronzed and repaired."

He added that monuments like Marble Arch were one of the reasons tourists visit London.

"It is vital that we continue to invest in them and their better presentation - that means lighting them well to improve their night-time appearance. We have been looking at strategies to do that as well," he said.

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