Statue to remain despite campaign

The Respect Willie Carr campaign.
The Respect Willie Carr campaign.

The statue of a local strongman will stay put, despite protests from residents.

The statue of Willie Carr, known as the strongest man in Britain in the 17th century, stood on a plinth surrounded by seats in the centre of Blyth’s Keel Row Shopping Centre for more than 20 years until May of last year.

The statue, which was commissioned by Hunting Gates Ltd, who were the first owners of the mall almost 25 years ago, and was designed by Phillip Blacker, was removed for safety reasons when a crack appeared in his right ankle.

The plinth and seating were taken away soon afterwards and replaced by tiles.

After several months with no return of the statue, residents contacted the owners of the centre, the Northumberland Estates, and were told there was difficulty in finding someone to repair him.

Fifteen months after the statue was removed, it was returned to the centre, but placed at the back door leading to the car park.

A Respect Willie Carr movement was launched, urging for Willie to be put in a more prominent position near the main entrance leading from the market place.

An official of the Northumberland Estates said: “The owners are aware of the issue regarding Willie Carr and respect the strong feeling towards the statue situated at the Keel Row Shopping Centre.

“Plans are underway to improve the overall shopping experience of the centre and the management team will take on board the comments from the public.”