Published: 09:02, 26 November 2017
Ashford’s famous tank will be completely refurbished to mark 100 years since it arrived in the town, it has been announced.
The Mark IV machine, No 245, was driven through the streets to its home in St George’s Square on August 1, 1919.
It has been in place ever since but council bosses are now planning a full refurbishment to celebrate its centenary in 2019.
Cllr Stephen Dehnel, Armed Forces champion at Ashford Borough Council (ABC), said the authority is proud of the machine.
“We want to refurbish the whole tank as it is a bit rusty and unloved at the moment,” he said.
“We want to make sure it is in tip-top condition in time to celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2019.
“It is an incredibly iconic piece and it is a war monument so it should be treated no different to the Cenotaph.”
The tank, which sits under a specially constructed covered area in St George’s Square, will be fully repainted.
“It will be an expensive project and it will be serious work,” Cllr Dehnel added.
"Long may our tank remain where it is..." - Cllr Dehnel
“But it should be offered the highest respect and we want people to understand its story, its history and why it is here.
“We will also improve the tank’s surroundings too, installing information boards which will tell the whole story.
“We want to enhance the experience around the tank and really spruce it up.”
Cllr Dehnel was speaking at a special service last Friday which marked the centenary of a First World War tank battle.
The event remembered the Battle of Cambrai – the first major tank offensive of the war – and was attended by about 70 invited guests.
Cllr Dehnel told the service: “Being the sole surviving First World War Mark IV tank in a public place, it generates a lot of interest from other cities, museums and organisations, and on each occasion when there has been a request to remove it the answer has and will be a very firm ‘no’.
“The borough of Ashford is very proud of its tank, not merely for its uniqueness as an historic artefact, but for what it represents in terms of sacrifice, duty, and honour – both by the armed forces and civilians that were on the home front. Long may our tank remain where it is.”