Wednesday, 2 November 2011
How should we remember?
Related to my musings the other week on the subject of great men, there have been several calls for some kind of memorial to Jonathan Silver, the entrepreneur whose vision in the 1980s was the saving of Salts Mill and Saltaire. It's an interesting debate, isn't it, whether people should be remembered in a statue or simply by the legacy of their activities. Sir Titus Salt has both - Saltaire itself and (several) statues and busts dotted around the place. Some were unveiled whilst he was still alive, others posthumously.
The statue above stands in the High Street in Skipton. Erected in 1888, it shows Sir Mathew Wilson (1802-1891), 1st baronet of Eshton Hall Gargrave, a local landowner, Liberal politician and the longest-serving magistrate in Skipton's history. He became a JP at 22 and served until he was 88. Apparently there was some controversy over the statue, which was paid for by his friends. It was applauded by the local Liberal-leaning newspaper as 'a work of art fit to grace any street in the land' but derided by the rival paper who declared it 'a passable likeness of the old gentleman, who seems to be perched atop a gravestone'. Despite the rancour, Sir Mathew himself attended the unveiling.
I think I would prefer to be remembered for the library in the background, built with money donated by the Scottish-American businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. It was opened in 1910 by Sir Mathew Amcotts Wilson (4th baronet).