Planned statue to Tour de France legend Tommy Simpson in Haswell may be shelved

TRIBUTE PLAN: Coun Alan Liversidge
TRIBUTE PLAN: Coun Alan Liversidge

PLANS for a statue to cycling legend Tommy Simpson in his home village are likely to be shelved on cost grounds.

There are also questions over where such a tribute would be built and whether he should be favoured over other local heroes.

Villagers are instead looking at the possibility of of a commemorative plaque and framed display to Simpson inside Haswell’s community centre.

Simpson lived with his family near Haswell Workingmen’s Club, in Station Street, which his parents ran, until they moved to Nottinghamshire when he was around nine.

The premises have since been demolished and replaced by flats.

Haswell Parish Council chairman and local historian Alan Liversidge, who has visited the Simpson memorial on Mont Ventoux, said: “It looks as though that the group of us looking at the statue idea are going to change our minds.

“There are questions over where to site it, how to pay for it and how to maintain it.

“Then if you have one statue you have to think about other local names and ask whether we should have two or three more.”

Other British sporting sons of Haswell include the late Ernie Pomfret, a steeplechaser at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, and John Watts, who threw the discus at the Munich Games eight years later.

The parish council, working with local organisations such as the Haswell Regernation Partnership and Haswell History Group, also wants to honour deceased former Easington MP Lord Jack Dormand.

Councillor Liversidge said: “We have still to reach a final decision but I do not want to build up any hopes for Tommy’s family and the families of the others.

“It is only right that we pay tribute to them but funding is far harder than it was 10 years ago.

“We are still proud that Tommy Simpson was born here.

“It was remarkable how such a small village could produce three sporting figures in such a short period of time who went on to represent Great Britain at a European level and beyond.

“Then as a mining community there is Lord Dormand to be looked at and what he did for the area from a political point of view.”

The council and local groups are expected to meet later this summer to discuss the idea of plaques and displays inside Hazelwell Community Centre to all four village sons.