Bishop of St Asaph 'disappointed' by HM Stanley statue

Image caption,
HM Stanley's 'totem pole' is unveiled

The Bishop of St Asaph has criticised a new statue to controversial Victorian explorer HM Stanley being unveiled in the shadow of the town's cathedral.

Earlier this year another statue honouring Stanley in Denbigh caused controversy when some claimed he was guilty of crimes against humanity.

Rt Revd Gregory Cameron said there were others more deserved of recognition.

But the group behind the statue said it was commissioned after a survey found people wanted a permanent reminder.

The bishop said: "I'm quite disappointed about all the fuss we are making about him.

"It's almost as if St Asaph doesn't have anyone else to celebrate."

The £18,000 obelisk, which is being unveiled at 1330 BST on Friday, marks the time Stanley spent in a workhouse, now HM Stanley Hospital in the town.

Bishop Cameron said he would rather celebrate someone like Bishop William Morgan who translated the Bible into Welsh in 1588.

Tin can

Former St Asaph mayor, Elsie Powell, a member of the group which commissioned the work, said she was pleased with the obelisk, adding it was not fair to judge Stanley by modern day standards.

And Coun Dewi Owens, who represents St Asaph on Denbighshire council, said opponents had warmed to the installation since seeing it in place.

But resident and former councillor John Smith said the obelisk had been likened to a "tin can", and was not in an appropriate location due to its height, dominating the main street and detracting from nearby St Asaph Cathedral.

Dr Livingstone, I presume?

Cornish blacksmith artists Gary and Thomas Thrussell produced the latest statue.

The father and son had agreed to take on board the earlier criticisms when plans for the statue were put forward by the committee set up to honour Stanley.

Image caption,
HM Stanley was born in Denbigh and lived as a child in St Asaph

From the workhouse and through his life as a reporter, explorer and MP, the piece commemorates the "triumph of determination and human spirit to overcome and succeed against the odds".

The obelisk includes images provided by pupils from Ysgol Esgob Morgan, Ysgol Glan Clwyd and Fairholm School, based on stories from his life - and the children's work has been widely praised.

A Congolese effigy sits at the top of the pole.

This reflects the time Stanley spent in the Congo and his famous greeting, "Dr Livingstone, I presume?" in 1871.

The first statue unveiled outside Denbigh Library in March received planning approval, despite a letter signed by 50 prominent figures claiming the explorer was guilty of crimes against humanity.

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