Bid to restore war memorial statue which was stolen by scrap thieves from Hartlepool park

Your town needs you - to help decide on plans to restore a war memorial destroyed almost 50 years ago.

Friday, 24th March 2017, 11:00 am
Updated Saturday, 25th March 2017, 10:49 am
Stephen Close and the plinth which is all that remains of the Boer War statue in Ward Jackson

Until the late 1960s, the plinth in Ward Jackson Park held a statue of a Boer War solider, paid for by public subscriptions.

Now community group History of Hartlepool wants to replace the missing sculpture.

Stephen Close with Ray Londale's proposal and how the statue orginally looked and could again

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Spokesman Steve Close said: “Twenty-three local men died in the Boer War and in 1906, the people of Hartlepool paid for a statue of a soldier.

“In 1968, it was stolen by scrap thieves and for 49 years now, the plinth has stood alone without its soldier.

“We think it’s about time that the community as a whole came together so that we can replace the statue and we have our soldier back in the place where he belongs.”

The idea first occurred more than a year ago, but the group has had to cut its way through some red tape to make it a reality.

Sculptor Ray Lonsdale's proposal for the new statue

“It is a very long, laborious process to go through,” said Steve.

“The problem we have come across is that the plinth itself is a listed structure - but even though the plinth is listed, the solder that was on it was not - it was only listed in 1986.

“So we have had to gain permission from Historic England to replace the statue. That has taken us 15 months to do but we have finally done it.”

The group has carried out preliminary consultation with members of the public, who have indicated they would prefer a traditional solider figure, rather than a more modern sculpture.

Sculptor Ray Lonsdale with his 'Tommy' statue at Seaham

Now the question is, what form should that take?

“The reason we are announcing it now is that we have an opportunity for people to express their opinion on what type of statue they would like,” said Steve.

He has approached the creator of the iconic ‘Tommy’ statue at Seaham about the possibility of producing a replacement: “Ray Lonsdale has done a survey of the plinth and very generously done me a sketch of what his statue would look like.

“The other option we have to explore is would we like a replica of the original statue, made from resin using a 3D printer, which would look authentic.

The original statue

“We would like to know everybody’s opinions and once we get specific information from people, we can progress our application with the planning department and start the process of fund-raising.”

Steve expects either option to cost in he region of £25,000, though the resin option is likely to be the more expensive.

“I want to get the local schools involved and the Friends of Ward Jackson Park,” he said.

“We already have the Durham Light Infantry interested and we have had a lot of support not just from individual councillors, but the borough council, who have been very helpful.”

Anyone wishing to express an opinion should write to History of Hartlepool, 160 York Road, Hartlepool TS26 9DT.

Stephen Close close to the plinth that remains of the of the Boer War statue in Ward Jackson Park Picture by FRANK REID
Stephen Close with Ray Londale's proposal and how the statue orginally looked and could again
Sculptor Ray Lonsdale's proposal for the new statue
Sculptor Ray Lonsdale with his 'Tommy' statue at Seaham
The original statue
Stephen Close close to the plinth that remains of the of the Boer War statue in Ward Jackson Park Picture by FRANK REID