AN ICONIC part of Southampton history will be restored to its former glory.

Two lions which stand at the Bargate guarding the entrance to the old city are being repaired.

The two statues have been removed from their plinths for some “much-needed repair and tender loving care”.

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Exposed to the elements and having stood at their current site for almost three centuries the two beasts have become corroded and developed cracks.

But now, they will be restored to their original state with the project expected to take around four months.

A statement from the city council said: “ On Wednesday Southampton’s Bargate Lions were removed from their plinths by a specialist contractor for some much-needed repair and TLC. After 275 years, the lions have developed several cracks caused by the ironwork inside them expanding due to natural corrosion, and other damage caused by someone climbing on them.”

The work will involve replacing the internal ironwork with a strong stainless steel framework, repairing the cracks, reattaching one of the tails and resetting the staffs that hold them in place.

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Layers of paint that have built up on the sculptures over the years will then be analysed by experts to restore the lions to their original finish.

This specialised work is expected to take around four months to complete depending on what the conservators find when they look inside.

According to local history experts, the original lions had lamps hanging from their mouths lighting the way to the entrance of the Southampton for people returning home.

The external structure of each of the lions “which show off the strength of the city” - is made of lead.

Put in place in the 1700s they are believed to have replaced wooden lions that dated back to Tudor times.