Walton: Work starts on landmark World War One statue

Sculptur John Doubleday

Sculptur John Doubleday

Work has begun on a groundbreaking statue due to be erected on the north Essex coast to mark the centenary of the start of World War One.

The seven foot-tall bronze figure of war hero Private Herbert George Columbine, who came from Walton-on-the-Naze, is being created by famous sculptor John Doubleday and is intended to stand on the seafront at the resort.

Supporters claim the effigy of Private Columbine, who was awarded the Victoria Cross after dying in battle in 1918, will be the only statue of a named private soldier to be erected in Britain, when it is unveiled in August 2014,

The idea for the memorial has come from six Walton residents who have spent the past two years aiming to raise the £52,000 needed to pay for the statue.

Through Royal Legion events, the sale of secondhand items and a generous donation of £15,000 from Tesco, the group, who have has so far raised £41,000 and are now appealing for help to complete their task.

Group member Michael Turner said; “ We are looking for help with the final push to raising the money.

“We hope the statue will be viewed by the community of Walton-on-the-Naze and visitors to the town as a fitting tribute to Walton’s World War One hero.”

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The project has certainly ignited the passion of world-renown sculptor Mr Doubleday. The Great Totham-based artist, whose works include statues of Charlie Chaplin in London’s Leicester Square and the Beatles in Liverpool, has already made a preparatory model of the work and is currently creating a clay version of the finished article.

He said: “Producing this work is a great responsibility. It is important we do not forget what a catastrophic event the First World War was in human terms.

“As far as I know this is the only statue of a named private that will be erected in this country. There are plenty of statues of generals but not many of those who actually did the job, and fought and won the war.

“For me Private Columbine stands for all the Tommies who showed extreme selflessness and courage, and were ultimately mown down due to the questionable decisions made by their senior commanders.”

If you can help Mr Turner, he can be contacted on columbinefund@hotmail.co.uk or 01255 677088.