Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Man on the Horse Row May Ruin Pounds 5m of Plans; Statue's Move Causes Concern

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Man on the Horse Row May Ruin Pounds 5m of Plans; Statue's Move Causes Concern

Article excerpt

Byline: Neil McKay

OLD AND NEW Londonderry sits NEVER known for his sense of humour, Lord Londonderry must be laughing in his grave more than a century after his death.

The mounted figure of Charles Vane, the 3rd Marquess of Londonderry, which dominates Durham City Market Place was a controversial one during his lifetime.

And almost 150 years later "the man on the horse" is again at the centre of attention by threatening to scupper more than pounds 5m planned investment. When the statue was proposed, opinion was divided between those who respected his military career and others who remembered the colliery owner who sent letters threatening to evict any merchant in Seaham who supplied goods to striking miners.

The electro-plated copper statue of Londonderry, portrayed at the age of 42 dressed as a hussar, was unveiled in 1861 at a ceremony attended by Benjamin Disraeli and various military detachments Fast forward 148 years and a petition organised by conservation group the City of Durham Trust against the moving of Lord Londonderry attracted more than 5,500 signatures.

Durham City Vision wants to move the statue across the Market Place as part of its pounds 5.25m Heart of the City project, aimed at helping the city host more high-profile events in the Market Place, as well as transforming the Vennels - small passageways leading off Durham's ancient, winding thoroughfares - and giving the city centre a facelift.

The Vision team believe the scheme will encourage more people to visit Durham and spend more money in the city. But Dr Douglas Pocock said trustees were adamant the statue was central to the Market Place and the Vision's goals could be achieved without moving it.

He said: "The Vision want to clear the space for events. We think the Market Place should be a place of business."

But Harvey Dowdy, director of Durham City Vision, a partnership of representatives from industry, the county council, the city's cathedral and university, and regeneration agency One NorthEast, warned: "If we cannot move the statue that will be the finish of pounds 5m-plus investment which would regenerate the centre of Durham. …

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