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Doubts over destination of rescued Cambridge temple carvings

A Cambridge hairdresser who saved beautiful temple carvings from being thrown in a skip is worried that the city council will not back his plans to display them in public gardens.

Piero D’Angelico salvaged the stone archway from the old library on Mill Road, which most recently had been used as a place of worship.

Piero D'Angelico with the carvings. Picture: Keith Heppell
Piero D'Angelico with the carvings. Picture: Keith Heppell

He intervened when he discovered that the stone pillars around the former altar of the Bharat Bhavan temple were due to be smashed while the building was renovated by Cambridgeshire County Council.

After agreeing to buy the stonework from the county council through the Mill Road Traders’ Association, he has since stored the carvings at the nearby Travis Perkins depot

For the past two months, Piero has been trying to persuade the city council to erect them in gardens at Ditchburn Place so they can be enjoyed by all.

However, he claims his efforts have gone nowhere so far. He said: “I have been trying to engage with the city council and get someone to meet me for the past two months to discuss this with no joy.

The carvings. Picture: Keith Heppell
The carvings. Picture: Keith Heppell

“I want these carvings to be for everyone on Mill Road and that’s why I bought them when they were just going to be thrown away.

“And it’s why I have asked for them to be displayed in Ditchburn Place, which has public gardens and is safe because it can be locked at night.”

City council officers have said they will now meet with Piero, but that they want reassurances that the stones are safe to be erected outside and that the project would have the blessing of the Indian Community and Cultural Association.

Suzanne Hemingway, strategic director at Cambridge City Council, said: “We want to understand any potential religious or cultural sensitivities before we look at places to install the arch.”

She added: “I’ve also asked for us to have access to survey the stones – this would allow us to begin to assess how the arch might be safely installed.

Piero D'Angelico with the carvings. Picture: Keith Heppell
Piero D'Angelico with the carvings. Picture: Keith Heppell

“I am not willing to commit to a location until we have done those pieces of work.

“If we were to consider erecting the stones on council property, we need to review options.

“Ditchburn Place is the private home of many residents, so we would need to consult with them.”

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