History fan helps top North East artist to make new statue coming to Hartlepool

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A history enthusiast who led a successful £25,000 appeal to replace a stolen statue in a Hartlepool park has had a hands on role in its creation.

Stephen Close spearheaded the drive to raise the money for the replacement statue of a Boer War soldier at a memorial in Ward Jackson Park.

The new statue has been designed and is currently being crafted by top North East artist and sculptor Ray Lonsdale.

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Stephen Close in Ray Lonsdale's unit where he got to work on the Boer War statue (right).Stephen Close in Ray Lonsdale's unit where he got to work on the Boer War statue (right).
Stephen Close in Ray Lonsdale's unit where he got to work on the Boer War statue (right).

Stephen recently got to spend half a day under Lonsdale’s supervision at his factory unit helping in the construction of part of the statue which is quickly taking shape.

He helped to make part of the soldier’s uniform top pocket and had to bend and shape the steel to fit the gap left by Lonsdale.

Stephen said: "What a great experience to contribute something as small as that, something to tell my grandkids about.

"The statue looks amazing and every day it grows in size.

Stephen Close working on the statue.Stephen Close working on the statue.
Stephen Close working on the statue.

"When it weathers it will have the ‘rust’ look to it but for now looks a million dollars. I can’t wait.

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"Thanks to everyone who contributed, this has been a great experience.”

The statue’s head, torso and both legs have been completed and it is on course to be installed in Ward Jackson Park in September.

Stephen commissioned Ray Lonsdale, of Two Red Rubber Bands. who has a fascination with the human form.

His thought-provoking works of art built from steel convey sensitivity and emotion and often provide deep reflection.

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He currently has at least 18 sculptures on display across the North East, with several reflecting the region’s maritime and industrial heritage.

One of his most well-known is 1101, commonly known as Tommy, which is installed at Seaham Harbour.

Hartlepool’s Boer War memorial honours 23 soldiers from the town who perished in the conflict in South Africa between 1899 and 1902.

The original bronze memorial statue was purchased by public subscription in 1906, but disappeared in 1968.

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Money from generous supporters has continued to come in for the project at gofundme.com and the fund now tops £30,000.

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