Historians’ plans to replace soldier statue stolen by scrap thieves 50 years ago march on

Stephen Close with drawings of the proposed replacement Boer War statue hoped for Ward Jackson Park  Picture by FRANK REID
Stephen Close with drawings of the proposed replacement Boer War statue hoped for Ward Jackson Park Picture by FRANK REID

Plans have been submitted to council chiefs to replace a statue of a Boer War soldier after almost 50 years in a Hartlepool park.

The History of Hartlepool group have lodged a planning application with Hartlepool Borough Council for the tribute in Ward Jackson Park.

The park’s original bronze statue, which dated back to 1905, was stolen by scrap metal thieves in 1968, leaving just the plinth standing.

Sculptor Ray Lonsdale, creator of the iconic First World War ‘Tommy’ statue at Seaham, produced a sketch of a replacement statue for the Hartlepool history group.

It held a public consultation last year to decide what form it should take.

Options included a replacement, a replica made of resin or plastic, or a more modern design.

In supporting documents as part of the planning application, Stephen Close, of the History of Hartlepool group, said: Mr Close added: “The park is very well used and provides a wonderful public arts space that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and backgrounds.

“The park once contained numerous pieces of artwork constructed in natural materials, however, many of these have decayed and the park is now left with very few pieces of interest.

“It is our intention to replace the missing Boer War statue with a similar soldier made from an economical grade of metal rather than solid bronze.”

He said the proposal received unanimous public support after a consultation in libraries, the Place in the Park, the Hartlepool Mail and with local councillors.

Mr Close said Ray Lonsdale has a wealth of experience and has produced many elegant and powerful pieces of work.

He added: “The new statue will be available to see 365 days of the year as it stands in the grounds of Ward Jackson Park and we also hope to gain permission to erect a 1.5m high protective metal fence so that the work of art cannot be tampered with and will be more secure than the last one.”

The history group had to gain permission from Historic England to replace the statue, a process which took 15 months.

Mr Close added: “We at History of Hartlepool believe that the replacement will be a significant draw to the park and a benefit to local historians, visiting school children and for educational visits.”

No decision has been made yet by the council.