Scaling Heights for a Very Special Lady; Gibside's Liberty Statue Receives Rare Visitors

The Journal (Newcastle, England), October 12, 2011 | Go to article overview

Scaling Heights for a Very Special Lady; Gibside's Liberty Statue Receives Rare Visitors


Byline: Tony Henderson

VISITORS are few and far between when you are perched 146ft above the ground. So it was a special day yesterday for the four-metre high lady at the top of a column at the National Trust's Gibside estate.

Representing Liberty, she was put in place by estate owner George Bowes between 1750-57.

Yesterday, steeplejacks used ropes to scale the Column to British Liberty at Gibside to survey the condition of its stonework and estimate its conservation needs. The inspection takes place every five years.

The liberty lady also had visitors eight years ago when experts from the same firm, Stone Technical Services of Darlington, climbed the column to remove vegetation because plant roots can work their way between stone blocks and cause damage. The plants grow from seeds in bird droppings.

As well as repairs to the weathered stonework and the need to replace Liberty's arm - only the thumb remained attached to its wire framework - the copper cap on top of her head showed signs of rifle fire damage.

This is likely to have been from the Second World War, when Gibside was a training ground for the local Home Guard and several historic buildings were utilised for target practice.

The column, designed by Daniel Garrett, was part of coal baron George Bowes's grand improvement plans for his estate, which also included the chapel, banqueting house, stable block and octagonal pond. …

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