BRIERLEY Hill's historic war memorial is to get a make-over as part of a major regeneration plan for the town.

The grade II listed soldier will be repaired and enhanced as part of the work, costing £214,000, which will include specialist repairs to the marble statue and installation of a new natural stone terrace.

Railings and brickwork will also be repaired and repainted and there will be new architectural lighting, interpretation panels and a general clean up of the area.

The work is part of a wider regeneration programme for the town through the £1.8million Brierley Hill High Street Heritage Action Zone, a Government funded grant programme administered by Historic England.

Councillor Simon Phipps, Dudley Council's cabinet member for regeneration and enterprise, said: "I am delighted that we can start work with Historic England on enhancements and repairs to the Brierley Hill War memorial. There’s a lot of exciting developments in the pipeline for Brierley Hill and starting work on one of the town’s most historic landmarks is key to that.

"I am pleased to be working in partnership with the community on this as well who provide a valuable insight to the area and have championed the need for funding to be found for this project."

The memorial commemorates the dead of the First and Second World Wars and the Korean War, Cyprus Emergency and Malayan Emergency.

Standing on top of it is a marble statue of a male soldier in uniform with a bayonet.

Stanley Harley, the first man in Brierley Hill to be awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM), was the one selected to pose for it when it was originally being carved.

Brierley Hill Community Forum is also supporting the project by providing content for two new interpretation panels which are proposed to be installed on the site.

Tim Sunter, chairman of the forum, said: "The war memorial rightly holds a very special place in the hearts of the people of Brierley Hill. When the forum started lobbying for improvements in the town its top priority was to get the war memorial restored and the adjacent gardens put in a fitting state for a site of such prominence in the town.

"It is heart-warming to see the scaffolding up around the memorial as the work gets underway, with garden improvements to take place early next year, to enhance a permanent and fitting tribute to the fallen of Brierley Hill."

The work is being done by Midland Conservation Ltd and being overseen by Oliver Architecture and is expected to be complete by November in time for the centenary celebrations of the memorial, which was originally unveiled on Saturday November 12, 1921, by a party of local clergy and civic dignitaries.

Brierley Hill councillor Adam Davies said: “I can’t wait to see this next phase of works completed and so fittingly in time for the 100th anniversary of the memorial first being installed. This restoration will ensure that in Brierley Hill we continue to remember our fallen heroes with the honour that their memory deserves.”

He added: "It is so important that we always remember the bravery of those who gave their lives in service of our country and our way of life.

"We need to make sure future generations are taught about the enormous sacrifices that have been made, and are still being made today, so that we can live in freedom. Otherwise, that free way of life is at risk of being taken for granted – something which history warns against."