Thursday, 29 October 2009

Durham Statue on the Move


Visitors to Durham at dusk on Wednesday may have thought they were imagining things as a headless horseman made his way past the toll near the Market Place.

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The much-loved equestrian statue of the 3rd Marquess of Londonderry is on its way to London to be restored.
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On Monday, scaffolding was erected around the statue, which was first unveiled in the Market Place in 1861. The Marquess of Londonderry was famous as the builder of the Durham coal port of Seaham Harbour.
Created from electroplated copper by sculptor Signor Raphael Monti, the statue is in need of repair, which will be carried out by London based Rupert Harris Conservation.

Local people are glad that their beloved landmark statue is to be restored. However, there is much concern about its future location.

For nearly 150 years the statue has stood on its plinth in Durham Market Place, but may be moved further down on its return. The depth of feeling is evident in a petition of 5,500 signatures asking that the statue should remain in its original position.


There was a feeling of quiet respect as the statue was prepared to be transported to London. The head was removed for travelling, and as the sun set, people stood by waiting.




The horse seemed to champ at the bit, caged on the transporter.



At last the extraordinary passenger was on the move.



Silence fell, as the huge vehicle carefully turned the corner by St Nicholas' Church.
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The people of Durham bid their beloved statue farewell, until its return.



North East artist Ingrid Sylvestre - Durham statue on the Move

Thank you for your concerned comments, dear bloggy-friends! You can read more about the statue here and here.

Ingrid Sylvestre

Durham artist Ingrid Sylvestre, Artist in Durham.

30 comments:

Monica the Garden Faerie said...

I always think it's cool when things are out of context, like statues or houses being moved on trucks!

Phoenix C. said...

It was a really amazing sight, Monica, and very atmospheric and moving too.

Pondside said...

I especially liked this post because it is about something very near to the hearts of people in one certain place, but something that doesn't make the news at all. The image of the headless statue, the mist lit by the truck lights, and the silent townspeople watching - very touching, and a little spooky.

Phoenix C. said...

Thank you Pondside. It was very touching being there, and hearing people talking about how much the statue means to them. I have been told about meetings for first dates at the steps of the statue's plinth ,which have resulted in long and happy marriages. Such warm history should be preserved.

PERBS said...

How neat that people care enough to restore such a treasure. I, too, think it should be put back in the original spot and hope they will when it returns all repaired. Thanks for sharing such an important milestone with us.

Catherine@AGardenerinProgress said...

I wonder why they would move it elsewhere? I would imagine the people of that area would be a bit upset having something moved that's been there for so long. I bet it was very interesting to watch the process of moving it.

Diane AZ said...

Such a moving story with beautiful photos. I hope it has a happy ending and the people of Durham will be pleased with the restoration and placement of the statue.

lynn'sgarden said...

Phoenix C. how great that you were there to capture this event in photos. You can definitely see the care (and attention) that went into this move~thanks for sharing ;)

Phoenix C. said...

Thank you PERBS. Our heritage is so important!

Phoenix C. said...

It was interesting to watch it being transported, Catherine, and it felt very momentous and emotional too.

I've added a couple of links which give some further information about the proposed move and people's reactions.

Phoenix C. said...

Thank you Diane AZ. I too hope it has a happy ending!

Phoenix C. said...

I was lucky to be there at the right time, Lynn - and just had time to take the photos before going somewhere else!

RuneE said...

I must admit - a bit special. Absolutely for the "spooky"-people!

Phoenix C. said...

The 'headless rider' did give a 'spooky' impression, RuneE - but the statue in it's entirety is a familiar and well-loved landmark - no spookiness atall!

Prospero said...

Great set of pictures. It has a touch of the surreal about it - like something out of a Fellini film.

Anna said...

A fascinating post Phoenix. How long will it be before the statue returns to Durham ? I do hope that it returns to its original spot.

Phoenix C. said...

Thank you Prospero! (I confess that I don't think I've ever seen a Fellini film!) There was a surreal feeling to the event.

Phoenix C. said...

Anna, thank you. The statue will be away about six months being restored. Let's hope it does return to its original spot!

Bim said...

Beautiful dusk photos. The horse does look as if it finds either the cage or the journey (or both) a bit nerve wrecking and I love that the Marquess' head is doing the journey all by itself. Hope they don't feel tempted to stay in the big city.

Phoenix C. said...

Thank you Bim.

Maybe they'll escape, and come galloping wildly up the motorway to Durham!

Barbara Martin said...

I love equestrian statues! They provide an excellent historical reminder of the past. I'm glad this statue is going for restoration, and hopefully it will end up back at its original location.

Phoenix C. said...

Barbara, I love equestrian statues too - they act as a focal point in a square, and each one is different, with its own history.

Rob (ourfrenchgarden) said...

The headless horse man makes for a terrific photo opportunity.

I hope it's put back in the original spot.

Phoenix C. said...

It was a great opportunity for photos, Rob - and it made me think about things like how important memories and heritage are to communities too.

Alaine said...

Great that it's being restored. Please don't forget to post photos of the end result; would love to see it!

Phoenix C. said...

I will, Alaine - I believe the restoration will be complete in about six months time.

Bay Area Tendrils Garden Travel said...

I'm arriving late to the dialogue! What a fascinating portfolio of images. How savvy of you to document this process. Really enjoyed it, most especially the mood of the lighting given the age and patina of the sculpture.
take care, Alice

Phoenix C. said...

Glad you enjoyed it Alice! I'll keep you posted on its return.

Gerald (Ackworth born) said...

Fascinating - I hope it returns in full glory.

Phoenix C. said...

Thank you Gerald, I'm sure it will!