Victory declared as Hartlepool Boer War statue campaign reaches £25,000 target

A Hartlepool war memorial is to get a new statue more than 50 years since the original was stolen.

The figure of a British soldier will once again stand atop the town’s memorial to the Boer War in Ward Jackson Park after three years of fundraising.

It will replace the memorial’s original bronze statue that was paid for by public subscription in 1906 but stolen in 1968.

The stone plinth honouring the names of 23 Hartlepool servicemen who died in the conflict in South Africa is all that has remained since.

Statue fundraiser Stephen Close receives the final donations to reach £25,000 from Jane Rollo, of the Friends of Friends of Ward Jackson Park, and Anne Brown, from the Friends of Hartlepool Wild Green Spaces.

Local history enthusiast and businessman Stephen Close led the fundraising appeal and says it is important such conflicts are remembered for future generations.

He said he was inspired after seeing monuments in northern France when visiting the battlefields of the Somme.

Stephen said: “It’s important that these memorials are maintained and people should explain what happened and the futility of war for the young kids and to me that’s why I wanted to replace it.”

As the original statue was paid for by the people of the town, Stephen felt the money for the new one should also be raised from the community.

Artist Ray Lonsdale's approved design for the replacement Boer War statue in Ward Jackson Park. Picture by FRANK REID

The final donations that saw the fund reach its £25,000 target were £1,000 from the Friends of Ward Jackson Park and £250 from the Friends of Hartlepool Wild Green Spaces, which both help to maintain the park and improve its facilities.

Jane Rollo, from the Friends of Ward Jackson Park, and Anne Brown, from the Friends of Hartlepool Wild Green Spaces, have now handed over the money.

Stephen added: "It’s great. It has been hard work getting there but people have been really generous.

“I would like Jane and Anne for providing the final piece of the jigsaw. It now allows us to raise some extra to provide a bench before the statue begins construction in February.”

Artist Ray Lonsdale.

Along with numerous donations from supporters, including several ex-servicemen and organisations, Stephen has auctioned off a series of vintage Hartlepool posters through the History of Hartlepool in Images Facebook page.

The new statue of a Boer War soldier has been designed and will be made by artist Ray Lonsdale, who also made Seaham’s “Tommy” sculpture of a First Word War soldier.

It is due to be in place by next summer.

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