Beautiful and haunting statues inspired by Harborough’s famous and fascinating figures – both past and present, will be sited throughout the week leading up to Arts Fresco – from the 5th to the 10th of September only..
The statues were created by local people working in conjunction with the internationally renowned Spiral Theatre company, led by artist Chris Baldwin who has an international reputation for large scale outdoor productions. Our thanks to Seven Locks Housing, who kindly sponsored the project and were hugely helpful in supporting us throughout.
You can find the eleven statues placed in ten unusual and interesting places all round Market Harborough’s lovely High Street . They have been made by residents of the town using their own bodies as casts.
Each statue represents an interesting person who, in some way or other, is associated with the town; painters, politicians, nurses, Nobel Prize winners, industrialists and sportsmen to name but a few. During the day the statues look cool and dignified. After dark you will need to see them again as they have been built to glow in extraordinary ways! So remember to visit twice.
To accompany the 11 statues there are eleven short (1-2 minute) stories available as downloads from here. Especially recorded for this event these stories and memories add a beautiful perspective to the statue trail.
So why not follow the Arts Fresco Talking Statues Trail today, down load the files onto your phone, ipod or mp3 player or computer and discover more about this fascinating town?
Angel Hotel - W and L Bragg
William Henry Bragg was educated at Market Harborough Grammar School and afterwards at King William’s College, Isle of Man. The work of Bragg and his son Lawrence in 1913-1914 founded a new branch of science of the greatest importance and significance, the analysis of crystal structure by means of X-rays.
Three Swans Hotel – Alfred Briggs Rubber Company Harborough Rubber/Dainite
Dainite products have been produced by the Harboro Rubber Company since 1894. The company remains in Market Harborough (at the original heart of the UK’s footwear industry between Leicester and Northampton) under the leadership of the original founder’s family. Dainite is the trade name established from the local phrase describing the company as the ‘day and night’ mills.
The company’s very first products were soles & heels – the first invoice dated 9th October 1894 was for ‘Women’s red soles’ and ‘black rubber soles’ and were sold by weight!
Joules Shop – High Street – Sister Cobb
Sister Cobb (and Nurse Cracknell below) were two of Market Harborough’s midwives working from the 1950’s to 1970’s. As a group making these statues we tried to put together a list not just of famous people but “people who touched many lives”. It seems that these two women touched many lives and ensured a good many of them entered this world safely!
Quinns Bookshop - Kathleen Coales
Well known throughout the midlands as a painter and illustrator Kathleen Coales studied art at Leicester School of Art in the first decades of the twentieth century. Between the wars she illustrated books for the OUP and others written by her father under the sudonym Mark Harborough.
Aldins Tearooms – Martin Johnson
Martin Johnson is an English former rugby union player who represented and captained England and Leicester. He is mostly known for captaining England to victory in the World Cup in 2003. He became the new England team manager on 1 July 2008. He’s regarded as one of the greatest locks to have ever played.
Harborough District Council Buildings - Ernest Elliott-1
“The name of Ernest Elliott is one that is linked with a distinct novelty. On stage proper, he has his own separately equipped miniature stage and thereupon, he offers Human Marionettes, which must be seen to be credited.”
- TED KAVANAH, FLOTSAM’S FOLLIES 1949
One of the first entertainers to appear on television, Ernest Elliott performed his humanettes for 35 years, including 35 broadcasts in the early days of the BBC, a performance for Princess Margaret when she was aged 7 and appearances all over the country in Summer Seasons, Music Hall and Variety.
Ernest lived all his life in Market Harborough. His aptitude for entertaining others, showed itself when, as a schoolboy of 12, he entertained his fellow pupils at school functions. At 15, he showed great promise as a ventriloquist, but it was when he turned professional that his true skill with humanettes came to the fore.
“It was a terribly busy life,” he said in a newspaper interview in 1970, “In the Winter I travelled 2000 miles a month, but I enjoyed the work – I ate, drank and slept it.”
His main repertoire, which he wrote himself, featured as many as 80 characters including a Bricklayer, a Sheik with his Camel, a Goalkeeper and a Musician playing “Poet & Peasant” on Tubular Bells. During his show-business career, Ernest wrote the words and music to over 250 songs – one of which, “The Song of the Tinker,” was recorded on HMV by Peter Dawson.
Ernest entertained professionally until 1957, except for a period during the 1914-18 War, when he served as a Naval Physical Education Instructor. Following his entertainment career, he returned to the family business and became a partner in a Gentlemen’s Outfitters in Market Harborough, a shop which was in the Elliott family for 98 years.
Waterstones Bookshop – Jack Gardner-2
Jack Gardner defeated Johnny Williams in 1950 in one of the most grueling fights ever staged in Britain after both men had to spend a night in a hospital. He won the British and Empire Heavyweight Title Eliminator and the fight was christened the “Bloodbath of the Midlands”. Gardner then became a contender for the Heavyweight Championship of the World in 1950, even being rated above Rocky Marciano the undefeated Heavyweight Champion of the World.
Gardner challenged Bruce Woodcock in 1950 for the British and Empire Heavyweight Championship, defeating him by TKO after eleven rounds
“I would like to thank the people of Market Harborough for the kind way in which they have supported me through my professional career. It is a grand feeling to know whoever you’re boxing and wherever you’re boxing that you’ve got a town at the back of you 100%. Tis a wonderful thing and it really gets me, Anyway, thanks all very, very much.”
Wesses Bakery - Long Liz
Everyone of a certain age seems to remember Long Liz selling the newspaper in the town centre. Some remember her with a pipe in her mouth while others remember her daughter pushing a dog around in a pram. What makes up a town’s history? Just the famous? What about those we used to call, “characters”?
George Hall Bike Shop – Nurse Cracknell
See above under Sister Cobb
Monks Furniture Shop – Kitty Monk
In 1912 Mr Monk (Kitty’s father) took over a business in St Mary’s Road but in 1923 he was forced to move the business to its current home in Northampton Road because of a road widening scheme. During the Second World War Monk’s demonstrated its continuing ability to respond to change when, in response to the tailing off of the burning oil business, the firm started supplying fuel for agricultural customers in the villages around Harborough, capitalising on the upsurge needed in wartime agricultural production.As a direct result of this trade in 1951 Monk’s was appointed area oil distributors for Shellmex and BP. That side of the business flourished until the retirement of William Monk in 1963. From then on the company concentrated on furniture, furnishings, carpets and removals under the guiding hand of Miss Kitty Monk, granddaughter of the founder, and town councillor for many years. Miss Monk herself retired in 1991.
Welland Park Rose Garden – Symingtons Corsets(From Thursday 8th September)
At the beginning of the 19th century in Scotland, William and James Symington, brothers from Lanarkshire, both made the journey south and set up new businesses in Market Harborough, Leicestershire.
William arrived in 1827 and started a successful tea, coffee and grocery warehouse and shop. Three years later, James followed and set himself up as a tailor, hatter and woollen draper in the shop next door.
William’s business soon grew and in 1832, he moved premises leaving the shop next door to James’ empty. It was soon taken over by Mrs Gold, a stay-maker, and her daughter Sarah.
By 1835, James and Sarah were married and Sarah’s skills as a seamstress and stay-maker were added to James’ business.
In 1881 the business began to export its corsets to Australia and later to markets in Africa, Canada, the United States and South America. It soon became obvious that, in order for the business to expand, new capital investment was needed.
This arrived in the shape of George Katz Warren who became a partner in the business, and in 1884 a new factory was built in Market Harborough. This was followed in 1890 by factories in Manchester, Rugby and Farnham.
In 1892, Robert died, leaving William Henry and George Katz Warren in charge of the business. After Katz Warren died in 1898, his share of the business had to be repaid in cash to his estate. In order to survive, the business had to become a public company and on the 29th September 1898 R. & W. H. Symington & Co. Ltd. came into being. The family still controlled the running of the firm, with three Symington brothers among with first directors.
We hope you enjoy the trail and learning about all the characters who have made Harboroygh what it is today – let us know what you think of the trail by posting your comments here:
Please note that during the weekend of the 10th and 11th of September the statues will be placed in Welland Park at night and will form part of the Enchanted Evening Promenade..
Our thanks to:
Bernie Brandrick, Audrey Pearson, Zalie Wharton, John Piggot, Joan Scotchbrook, Rho St Clair, Shirley Baitey, Sonia and William Crabtree, Debbie Cooper, Anne Deacon, Wendy Coombes, Hazel Clarke, Deborah Floody, Kim Swaford, Franki McHugo, Meryl Cumber, Katie Cook and Becky Jones who acted as the principal models, reseachers and sculptors on this project.