Published: 06:00, 02 February 2020
An historic tank in a town centre is at risk of collapse within 20 years, it has emerged.
A council report has been issued regarding the condition of the First World War machine in Ashford, which has been stationed in St George’s Square since 1919.
Exploration into possible conservation was kick-started as the country recognised the conflict’s centenary last year, with the next steps now laid out.
According to a council report, a recent basic condition survey revealed “the tank was ‘basically stable’ but ‘at risk’ of collapse in the next 15 to 20 years".
It says the landmark is in "critical need of large-scale intervention to re-establish structural integrity" and that an "extensive conservation treatment of the metal" is needed to safeguard its future.
Amid concerns about public safety, a chain was put across the rear of the historic vehicle late last year to stop people climbing over it, with a new sign highlighting its role as a registered war memorial.
The Mark IV tank, No 245, was given to the town in August 1919, recognising the money its residents donated to Britain's war effort, and since being installed its interior was was gutted to make way for an electricity sub-station.
Cllr Peter Feacey (Con), the portfolio holder for culture, said its conservation should be a top priority and specialists are now being sought to conduct a more in-depth survey of the machine.
An Ashford Borough Council spokesman said: “We are in the process of finding a suitably qualified company to undertake this detailed survey.
“As a 100-year-old tank, this is a complex process and we need to ensure we find the best company to carry out any restoration work.”