Work to start on installation of Hastings statue

A mock-up of where the statue will be
A mock-up of where the statue will be

Work will soon be under way to place an historic statue in the town centre.

The statue of Prince Albert will be installed by the town hall.

Last November, campaigners fighting to have the monument placed in a prominent position in town scored a victory when they were given approval by the planning inspectorate.

In February 2015, a bid put forward by campaigners was refused planning consent by Hastings Borough Council, going against officers’ recommendations.

Members said the statue’s condition was so poor it would not be suitable for display alongside the town hall, which is a Grade-II listed building.

Campaigners submitted an appeal to have the decision overturned, which was successful.

A new heritage group, the Albert Statue Group, was formed early this year to raise funds for the project.

Hastings Lions Club came forward with a generous donation for buying and installing the new Portland stone pedestal on which the statue is to be erected.

Steven Whitford, from the Albert Statue Group, said: “There have also been donations from members of the public who are keen to see the long-neglected statue back in the public domain.

“Roger Wilcock, of A. C. Towner Ltd has been advising on the project, and he is doing some of the preparatory work free of charge, with consent from his employer Edward Towner, as this is a community project without financial support from the council.

“Westoaks Builders Ltd has been engaged to do the installation work, and a specialist lifting contractor will also be required to lift the pedestal into position behind the ramped access to the community contact centre at the town hall, and then hoist the statue onto the pedestal for securing.”

The life-size statue of Prince Albert, sculpted in Portland stone by Edwin Stirling at his Liverpool studio, was saved for the town by Edith Skelton, who bought it from the demolition firm for £50.

When the original intention to ship the statue out to Canada to a former Hastings resident was dropped, the statue was given a home in the mini floral hall at Alexandra Park.

This attraction closed in the 1990s but the statue has remained in storage in the greenhouse that formerly served as the mini floral hall ever since.

Mr Whitford added: “A group of heritage enthusiasts held a public consultation event in July 2014, and there was emphatic support for the proposal to bring the statue back tothe town centre.

“It was then agreed with the council to put in planning applications for installing the statue alongside the town hall. There was a surprise when the authority’s planning committee refused permission in February 2015. However, the go-ahead for the project was given when an appeal to the government’s planning inspectorate was announced as successful last November.”

An information board, giving a concise history of the statue, is also to be installed, and this is being funded by Kelly Stirling, great-great grand-daughter of the statue’s sculptor, who lives in California.

Donations should be sent to the Albert Statue Group c/o Hastings Voluntary Action, Jackson Hall, Portland Place, Hastings, TN34 1QN. Cheques to be made payable to Hastings Voluntary Action. (If acknowledgement of the donation is required, enclose a SAE.)

Should proceeds exceed the amount required to complete the Albert Statue project, then the surplus will be allocated to another heritage project.

For further information about the Albert Statue project email albertstatue@outlook.com.

An illustrated booklet, The Story of Albert and his Memorial, has been produced by Brian Lawes and Hastings Local History Group. This costs £3 and is available from BOOKBUSTER, 39 Queen’s Road, Hastings.

All proceeds from the sale of the booklet go towards the project.

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