Hindu temple arch looks set for Cambridge garden home
Hopes have been raised that a carved stone archway saved from the skip after it was removed from a former Hindu temple could be installed in public gardens.
The carvings were bought for £1 from Cambridgeshire County Council last year by hairdresser Piero D’Angelico, representing Mill Road Traders, who wanted to save them for the community when he heard they were due for demolition.
The pink sandstone carvings, which were made in India, are believed to be worth as much as £500,000.
Now a survey of residents at Ditchburn Place, a sheltered housing community off Mill Road in Cambridge, shows a majority are happy for the archway to be installed in their gardens, which are open to the public.
Mr D’Angelico said: “I’m delighted we have got this far.
“We are another step closer to realising my dream of saving these for the community and installing them in a place where they can be enjoyed by everyone.
“The first time I saw the Indian carvings I knew they were of an incredible quality and I thought it would be a terrible waste to lose such a fine piece of art and something with such cultural value.
“My own grandfather was a stonemason and I used to go with him to work when I was a child in Italy, so I appreciated the craftsmanship of these pieces and the hours of skill and labour that has gone into them.
“Now I know there have still been some objections from residents to overcome and that we will still need planning permission for the project, but I’m confident that we can make our case.”
The survey of residents must now be analysed by council officers before a decision is made on whether Mill Road Traders can apply for planning permission.
However, the project has already attracted donations from many in the Mill Road area including pharmacist Anil Sharma, who used to attend the Bharat Bhavan Hindu temple on Mill Road before it was forced to close.
He said: “I’ve donated more than £2,000 to this project because I feel it is really important to save this piece of Hindu culture for future generations on Mill Road, which is probably the most ethnically diverse area in Cambridge.
“I wanted my kids to be able to go to those gardens and see the carvings from the temple they used to go to when they were small.
“There is nothing in this area like these carvings – you would have to travel to a temple in Birmingham, Leicester or London to see anything of this quality.
“I hope everyone will enjoy them as much as we will because they are really beautiful.”
City councillor Mike Davey (Lab, Petersfield) said: “I’m delighted this is moving forwards, but we mustn’t jump the gun as the consultation responses have to be analysed first.”
Visit cambridgegatewayfromindia.co.uk for more information or to donate to the project.