Stornoway Statues

21 04 2011

Readers will be familiar with the two statues to the Herring Girls that are located at Stornoway Harbour; one across from the Town Hall and the other near Lazy Corner on the Inner Harbour. These wonderful sculptures are a fitting memorial to the hard work and dedication of the many thousands of blones who used to work in the herring fishing industry.

But other statues have also appeared in Stornoway over the years to commemorate equally noteworthy figures from the towns illustrious past.

One long forgotten about statue was once located on the Castle Green. This statue was in honour of Lord Leverhulme and was commissioned by the Stornoway Trust, shortly after he had gifted the Parish to the townsfolk. It was designed as a fitting memorial to the benefactor who had done so much for the islands.

In keeping with Lord Lever’s background and to make fitting reference to how he made his fortune, it was decided that the statue should be carved from a giant block of soap and should be 50 feet tall.

An Appeal went out to the islanders for unused soap and very soon blocks of soap were piling up in a disused kippering shed on Bells Road. Submissions of Carbolic Soap proved to be very popular amoungst country folk who seemed unaware of any other types (or uses) of soap.

Local sculptor Henry Arnish-Moor was commissioned to design the statue. He arranged for the donated soap to be deposited on a specially made plinth of ollac near the Castle Green (this is still visible today, just beside the Low Road). His vision was to have the statue looking out on the harbour searching for fish. Arnish-Moor set to work with a specially designed tarasgeir, and fortified with a hefty carry-out, soon had a very lifelike statue of the Lord completed.

Unfortunately, the detailed planning process had forgotten to take account of normal Stornoway weather. Within a week of completion, a spell of typical summer weather (12 inches of rain) had ensured that the statue of Lord Leverhulme had disappeared into a frothy lather.

On the plus side, the soap suds ran into the Harbour and resulted in Stornoway winning the 1926 ‘Cleanest Harbour’ Award.

Another well known Stornoway statue used to grace the Manor district. In the 1980’s the Town Council decided to honour the local worthies known as The Dawn Squad, for services to local off-licenses. It was agreed that a suitable statue should be erected next to The Porters Lodge, in full view of the Trading Post and should feature one of the Dawn Squad sitting on a bench. This statue was entrusted to local artist Rod In-naclete, and was called The Drinker. The statute depicted a Dawn Squad member pondering where his next pound note was going to come from. It was made entirely from recycled ring-pulls from cans of SuperLager.

This statue was in place for little more than a year. It had to be removed due to the members of the Dawn Squad continually fighting over who the statue actually depicted. The statue was removed into storage and lay hidden away until it was resurrected when the Matheson Monument overlooking Cuddy Point was refurbished. If you look at this statue closely you can see that Diggum Da now stands overlooking Stornoway Harbour.



One response

3 06 2011
m latrfod

Not many people know that “The Drinker” was the first in a series of statues that Rod In-aclete intended to produce; each to be situated at a different entrance to the Castle Grounds.

Being a pretentious amadan, Rod-inaclete planned to give all the statues names that rhymed with each other in order to create “a poem; an additional, invisible sound sculpture, intangible but nevertheless as enduring as the solid pieces, linking them together synergistically”. Prat.

Co dhiu, the second sculpture, a ragged figure constructed from scap metal and fuidheags, was placed at Marybank lodge. The night after it was unveiled, a rusty white transit van was seen in the vicinity, and by the next morning the statue and its plinth had vanished. After that, Rod-inaclete couldn’t be bothered and the remaining statues in the series were never completed.

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