Camden Council granted planning permission for the statue of Sir Nigel Gresley and Mallard in November 2014, with the words “the works hereby approved are only those specifically indicated on the drawing(s) referred to above”. The ‘drawings‘, of course, and all the supporting documentation (such as the computer-generated picture shown here) clearly indicated a mallard duck at Gresley’s feet. This was the design the Gresley Society trustees had approved, and the one submitted to public consultation through the planning process.
And yet, now that the trustees have had their minds changed and have changed the design of the statue by asking the sculptor to remove the mallard, Camden Council apparently do not intend to insist the installation goes ahead as per the permission, ie with the mallard. This is despite overwhelming public support for inclusion of the mallard, and as we understand it, in breach of planning law.
It remains to be seen whether protesters will pursue this latest point and call for judicial review of Camden’s decision, but one thing does seem certain: there will be ducks on the statue. So many people have told us about plans for their own ducky tributes to Sir Nigel at King’s Cross that Camden looks set to have its own version of Glasgow’s Duke of Wellington statue, forever sporting a traffic cone.
Camden could avoid this potential embarrassment now: by making it clear to the Gresley Society Trust that the statue must be installed lawfully, with the (bronze) mallard.
It’s great to see Gresley’s Flying Scotsman back on the rails this week – and in the news – following restoration. Spare a thought for Sir William McAlpine, who rescued the engine from San Francisco where she was stranded after a financially ruinous US tour in the 70s.
McAlpine, patron of the Gresley Society, liked the original Sir Nigel Gresley and Mallard statue design and in the summer urged the Gresley Society trustees to reconsider their decision to remove the mallard.
McAlpine (pictured, centre) said, in a letter to Chairman David McIntosh:
I was attracted by the statue with the duck, when it was first shown in the press. I thought it was interesting and appropriate as did many, who saw it.
The duck would attract attention to the statue, which presumably was what it was intended to do. I still think so.
The Godfrey brothers ….no doubt wish to show respect for the Great Man, but I think they have missed the point. The duck shows him as human and with interests other than railways.
Future generations will not know who Sir Nigel Gresley was, but would ask about the duck and would discover what he achieved.
But the Gresley Society trustees refuse to change their minds. Rather than heed the views of Sir William, one of heritage railway’s best loved and most respected figures, they will only listen to Sir Nigel’s grandsons.
Grandson senior, Tim Godfrey, is quoted in the press this week talking about the return of Flying Scotsman:
I’m really glad it is going to be running once more; it is about time, it’s taken long enough.