LOCAL historians have launched an appeal to trace long-lost memorials to some of the great and the good from Colchester’s past.

Lexden History Group hopes to set up an archive of information about special bronze plaques which, at one time, honoured the town’s war heroes and leading citizens.

The plaques were originally attached to trees along the Avenue of Remembrance but many were stolen and sold, either at militaria fairs or simply for scrap.

Now the group wants to track down the remaining plaques and use the information on them to create an archive.

The Avenue of Remembrance was opened in 1933, running from Lexden Road to St Andrew’s Avenue, Greenstead, bypassing Colchester town centre.

The route was lined with memorial trees donated by organisations and townspeople.

Each tree was dedicated to a soldier who had served in the First World War, or a local dignatory, a former mayor, or a figure from the town’s Scouting organisations.

However, by the Nineties, many of the plaques were found to be missing.

This prompted Sonia Lewis, and Christopher Arnold, both Tory borough councillors at the time, to press for the Avenue of Remembrance to be restored.

Colchester Council then stepped in and removed the remaining plaques. The names of those to whom they were dedicated were included a memorial wall, built near the avenue’s junction with Colne Bank Avenue.

Mrs Lewis said at the time, the council had put out an appeal for the families of people remembered on the plaques to come forward and claim those which had been removed.

Other plaques, she added, were sold to raise funds to pay for the memorial wall.

Out of hundreds of plaques originally made, the council now has just 33.

Mrs Lewis, a former mayor and founder of the Lexden History Group, said: “We want to put together an archive containing as much information as possible.

We would like to hear from anyone who has a plaque in their possession.”

Anyone who can help is asked to email sonialewis@waitrose.com