Northampton public busting to have their say over new borough council bronze statues

The new statues now the line the Northampton Borough Council Guildhall courtyard.
The new statues now the line the Northampton Borough Council Guildhall courtyard.
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Have your say

A Northampton Borough Council art project to install five bronze statues worth £44,000 at their town centre headquarters has been met with a mixed reaction.

The Guildhall courtyard, in St Giles' Street, was closed yesterday (July 4) while the bespoke statues were cemented in place to celebrate the achievements of five former Northampton residents.

But residents have taken to the Chronicle & Echo's Facebook page to criticise the decision, which was announced one day before the installation.

One user, Andrew Podmore, said: "A total waste of time and money. Something else could have been done with the money.

"The shops in the centre are like statues; empty and useless. Could have spent the £44k on cleaning up the streets and drawing people back in to town."

The five statues join a sculpture of Northampton poet John Clare, which was added to a bench in the courtyard last year.

The new statue of Walter Tull, who joined Northampton Town Football Club in 1911 before becoming the first black officer to lead white British soldiers in battle during WWI.

The new statue of Walter Tull, who joined Northampton Town Football Club in 1911 before becoming the first black officer to lead white British soldiers in battle during WWI.

Another Chron reader, Sally Jameson, said: "Very nice if the county weren't short of money, but if it was happening in a household and we were spending money on unnecessary things we would say it was reckless."

But one user, Mark Pacan, said: "Everyone is short of money but who can say they've never spent on stuff they don't need when skint? If it adds a bit of culture and celebrates Northampton's history then I think it'll prove money well spent."

The statues include Nobel Prize winner and co-discoverer of DNA Francis Crick, "Bridge Over the River Kwai" score composer Malcolm Arnold, and philanthropist Lady Wantage, who gave the land for Abington Park to Northampton.

There will also be a statue of local legend Edgar Mobbs, who raised his own company of sportsmen for the Northamptonshire Regiment, and Walter Tull, who joined Northampton Town Football Club in 1911 before becoming the first black officer to lead white British soldiers in battle during WWI.

They were commissioned from sculptor Richard Austin by Northampton Borough Council for £44,000.

Reader Sue Garner said: "I take it [the council] have lots of money going spare then."

Ward councillor for Castle and leader of the Labour group Danielle Stone: "I think the addition of poet John Clare last year was a wonderful idea, and £44,000 for five bronze statues is a great deal.

"It's a shame they couldn't find more famous Northampton women to represent in the project."

The courtyard will be open today for residents to inspect the new statues themselves.

Councillor Hadland said: “With this installation, we’re celebrating a composer, a scientist, a great philanthropist, sportsmen and soldiers, as well as a renowned poet; so it really showcases the great range of talent and potential that we are able to nurture right here in Northampton."