'Priceless' Old General statue is safe

Old General statue in 2011 Image copyright Tony Shaw
Image caption The statue of the Old General is more than 100 years old

Developers have given reassurances that a "priceless" statue of an eccentric local character is safe and sound - amid fears it had been destroyed.

Known as the Old General, the statue stood over the door of a Nottingham pub of the same name for more than 100 years.

The pub is being developed into shops and flats, and people nearby noticed the statue had disappeared.

But the developers' agent Derek Francis said they do not need to worry.

Image copyright Cleon Nelson
Image caption The Old General statue is in a safe place and is wearing suitable health and safety attire

"It is in a secret location but it is safe," said Mr Francis.

"A lot of people have said that as far as they are concerned it is priceless, so we are very mindful of that."

He said the statue will be incorporated into the new development so that future generations will continue being able to see it when they walk past.

Image copyright Picture the Past
Image caption The statue used to stand above the main entrance to the pub, shown here in 1985
Image copyright Picture the Past
Image caption The pub has closed down and is being developed into flats and retail units

However, he did not want to reveal exactly how the statue will be displayed.

"It's going to be a very, very nice surprise for everybody," he said.

"It will definitely be in the building and it will definitely not be destroyed.

"We want it to be something that the next generation coming along will tell their children about as well."

Image copyright Picture the Past
Image caption The pub, shown here in 1912, became a landmark because of the statue

Steve Westby, chairman of the Nottingham Campaign for Real Ale, was among many people who objected to the pub being developed.

He remembers the statue right back to his childhood in the 1950s and is glad it is being preserved.

"That statue was iconic, it was the thing that was unique to the area," he said.

"Everybody knew it as a local landmark.

"We always looked forward to seeing the Old General statue, particularly at Christmas when it was dressed up in a Santa Claus costume."

Who was the Old General?

Image copyright Picture The Past
Image caption The statue, photographed here in the 1970s, is of a local character known as the Old General
  • The Old General was an eccentric local character called Benjamin Mayo, who died in 1843.
  • Despite his nickname he did not come from a military background, and spent most of his life drifting between workhouses.
  • He was immortalised in the 1890s when the Old General pub opened in the Hyson Green area of Nottingham.
  • A statue of him was displayed above the main entrance and became a local landmark.
  • He was first dressed up as Santa Claus in the early 1900s and this continued every Christmas.

Read more about Benjamin Mayo

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