Drummer Boy begins new future as statue is taken from Woodbridge for restoration

The Drummer Boy statue outside Suffolk Coastal's old building in Woodbridge is being removed for res

The Drummer Boy statue outside Suffolk Coastal's old building in Woodbridge is being removed for restoration. Left to right, Woodbridge mayor Clare Perkins and restorer Richard Rogers. Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

Two years of uncertainty over the future of a Suffolk statue ended with a relieved send-off as it decamped for restoration this morning.

The Drummer Boy statue left its post for the first time in three decades of guarding the former headquarters of Suffolk Coastal District Council, in Woodbridge.

Its temporary removal for renovation followed a string of disagreements over ownership and rightful whereabouts.

Until last month, when Woodbridge Town Council voted to seek quotes for its restoration and relocation, the Drummer Boy’s fate was still unclear – two years after a campaign was launched to scupper Suffolk Coastal’s plan of taking it to new offices in Melton.

When the district conceded and transferred custody of the statue – known officially as ‘The Drums of the Fore and Aft’ and based on characters in a Rudyard Kipling story of the same name – a public vote decided it should move to the centre of town, on Market Hill.

The Drummer Boy statue outside Suffolk Coastal's old building in Woodbridge is being removed for res

The Drummer Boy statue outside Suffolk Coastal's old building in Woodbridge is being removed for restoration. Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

However, the town council then withdrew its application for the move after developers of the vacant Melton Hill offices revealed a survey of people attending a planning workshop suggested it should stay.

In a final twist, Active Urban Property Group then revealed the statue was no longer prominent in its plans – but offered to match-fund Suffolk Coastal’s offer of a £10,000 relocation grant or move the Drummer Boy to another location on the site.

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When Suffolk Coastal proposed to remove and store the statue until its future was decided, the town council agreed with councillor Martin Sylvester’s recommendation to hasten arrangements for its restoration and relocation to Market Hill.

Mayor of Woodbridge, Clare Perkins, who was there to see the Drummer Boy depart, said: “In 33 years of standing there, the statue has become a fixture of the town.

The Drummer Boy statue outside Suffolk Coastal's old building in Woodbridge is being removed for res

The Drummer Boy statue outside Suffolk Coastal's old building in Woodbridge is being removed for restoration. Left to right, Woodbridge mayor Clare Perkins and restorer Richard Rogers. Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

“It’s a shame the developer did not keep it in the plans for Melton Hill, but I’m relieved it will now be restored – and the town can rest assured it will be looked after on Market Hill.”

She also shared her admiration for the fortitude of people like Linda and Roger Seagers, who were among founding members of the Woodbridge Heritage Group, which led the campaign to keep the Drummer Boy in the town.

Mrs Seagers said: “We’re pleased that the town council got behind it, and look forward to the statue coming home.”

The Drummer Boy statue outside the former Suffolk Coastal District Council offices in Woodbridge. Pi

The Drummer Boy statue outside the former Suffolk Coastal District Council offices in Woodbridge. Picture: SIMON PARKER - Credit: Archant