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).

9 comments:

  1. It's easier to remember someone when there's a statue. I like such pretty statues. They take part of the history and of the life of a city. They easily can become a point of rendez-vous, and this way, the person goes on living among us.

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  2. He does rather have the pose of a man waiting for a bus - and the expression of a man who has waited long enough! Is there anywhere a happy-looking statue?

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  3. The statue and the library look amazing! He does have a presence about him, doesn't he!

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  4. Surprisingly, those pigeons seem to be behaving themselves! ~Lili

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  5. It's interesting to me how the term 'liberal politician' in days past used to refer to one who stood for liberty.

    Nice post.

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  6. At least the pigeons pay some tribute, lol!

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  7. It's an interesting question. Until I started taking photographs of Derby for the blog, I tended to walk around oblivious to many statues. Now, I find them interesting to research and I have learned much.

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  8. A very interesting statue. Why is he sitting on a gravestone? Why the gown but no mortarboard? Looks like he's been cleaned up anyway. Good photo...
    What is that in the window on his right? a bust?

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  9. I'm with H and Malyss, I think. The statues make us remember that our todays were built on the visions and actions of people yesterdays. What makes it tricky is when you throw politics into the mix... and of course there are way too few acknowledgements of HERstory...

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