Friday, March 23, 2007

The Big Fella's back!

Get yourself down to High Row tomorrow at 12.45pm for the unveiling of the newly-restored Joseph Pease statue. For me it's a hugely symbolic moment. On one simple level, the return of the statue indicates that the town centre is really getting back to normality. That end of the High Row will feel "right" again.

It means a lot more, though. Pease's statue, dating from 1875, symbolises the marrying of the old and the new in the newly-pedestrianised town centre. Just as some of the old railings have been retained, so Joseph's figure shows that you can move forwards whilst preserving the best of the past.

Pease personified the huge strides the town made in the early to mid-nineteenth century. I'm only stretching the point a little when I point out that today, as we're in the midst of the biggest school re-building programme since Victorian times, with a grand new College and new jobs being created by the thousand, that there is a confidence about the town that Pease himself would have recognised.


miketually said...

Is he still going to go for a walk every Halloween?

miketually said...

I had a chance to have a proper look at the revealed work on Friday when I went into town with some colleagues to get lunch.

All four of us thought the changes were for the better, though we think the steps nearest Jo Pease either haven't been pointed in yet, or have been done very badly.

Darlington Councillor said...

Thanks, Mike - I couldn't be there today owing to a family commitment in Bristol - I'll have a look on Sunday.

mike barker said...

The statue looks good. The unveiling ceremony was well attended, by the rest of us, as well as the Great and Good, despite the freezing temperatures. I couldn't believe Chris Lloyd's claim that 100,000 people were there for the original unveiling: that's more than can fit into Wembley Stadium. Victorian exaggeration, methinks.
Two pigeons were circulating hopefully, and will no doubt by now have christened Joseph's right thigh, which had been cleaned up nicely during his absence.
There are a lot of steps though, as an elderly friend of mine pointed out. Are there plans to install more handrails running up and down the steps?
There are also a lot of steps and blocks with rough chunks knocked out. I'm amazed, frankly, that the contractors haven't been instructed to replace these before they became impossible to dig out.