Statues inspired by local history commissioned for Northampton

Published: Monday, 03 July 2017

Five new statues of historical figures with a strong connection to Northampton have been commissioned for display in the town.

Following the popularity of the statue of poet John Clare, which was installed at the Guildhall last year, Northampton Borough Council has commissioned five additional statues from the same artist. Sculptor Richard Austin crafted the cold cast bronze statues in the likeness of prominent characters from Northampton’s past who each lived very different lives.

The installation will celebrate the achievements of five former Northampton residents who made names for themselves both locally and internationally:

  • Nobel Prize winner, Francis Crick was educated at the Northampton Town and County Grammar School and went on to co-discover the DNA molecule
  • Walter Tull joined Northampton Town Football Club in 1911 before becoming the first black officer to lead white British soldiers in battle during WWI
  • Malcolm Arnold made his name as one of the most sought-after composers in Britain, writing the score for the film “The Bridge over the River Kwai” among others
  • Local hero, Edgar Mobbs raised his own company of sportsmen for the Northamptonshire Regiment after initially being turned down as too old to join the army. He was killed in action in July 1917
  • Noted philanthropist, Lady Wantage was instrumental in setting up the National Aid Society - the forerunner of the British Red Cross Society. In the 1890s Lady Wantage gave the land for Abington Park to Northampton

Lady Wantage will spend the summer at Abington Park Museum while the rest of the life-size figures will join John Clare to line the Courtyard of the Guildhall.

Councillor Tim Hadland, cabinet member for regeneration, enterprise and planning, said: “We received such a positive response to John Clare that we wanted to extend the project to include other talented and inspirational former Northampton residents.

“With this installation we’re celebrating a composer, a scientist, a great philanthropist, sportsmen and soldiers, as well as a renowned poet; so it really showcases the great range of talent and potential that we are able to nurture right here in Northampton.

“The Guildhall is at the heart of the town and is itself steeped in history, so it seems a fitting home for these figures who have each added to our rich heritage in their own way.”

Artist Richard Austin  said “It’s always so uplifting to work on a sculpture that represents the best of humanity. To work on six such figures for public display is therefore particularly exciting. I hope that this legacy from Northampton Borough Council will be as inspiring to those who see these statues, as it has been to create them.”

The statues will be installed on Tuesday, 4 July, during this time the Courtyard at the Guildhall will be closed to the public however the One Stop Shop shall remain open as usual.