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Statue of the week.

Byline: By Tony Henderson

The winged figure of Victory has surveyed Newcastle's Haymarket for almost a century from the top of her column.

After Grey's Monument it is the loftiest memorial in the city.

At present Victory is peeping above scaffolding as work goes ahead on cleaning the brass lettering and fixtures on the shaft of the column.

A check will also be made on the figure of Victory herself.

It is not the first time she has been the subject of close attention.

Thirty years ago the brass statue was taken down amid concerns that she would suffer damage during the construction of the Metro system and adjacent station.

Times move on and that same Haymarket station is now about to be swept away and replaced by a pounds 10m scheme which, it is said, will provide a more striking gateway to the northern part of the city centre.

In 1978, victory was restored to her plinth but her brass wings had been replaced by fibre glass versions.

This was because it was feared that the weight of the original wings could create instability and damage in future years.

The monument is a tribute to the North-East men who lost their lives in the gruelling South African war against the Boers from 1899 to 1902.

The Boers had besieged the British territories towns of Cape Colony and Natal and among the forces sent to relieve the garrisons were two battalions of the Northumberland Fusiliers.

The 1st Battalion drove the Boers from their positions at Belmont, Graspan and the Modder River before themselves suffering a reverse at Magersfontein.

The 2nd Battalion lost 350 men as prisoners to the Boers as they defended Natal.

But by 1900 the British has relieved the besieged towns of Kimberley, Ladysmith and Mafeking, to wild celebrations at home.

But the war dragged on for another two years, with the British having to adapt to the Boers' guerrilla tactics, which included the Northumberland Fusiliers training a mounted infantry company.

It was warfare which took a heavy toll and brass shields on the Newcastle monument list the dead by regiment.

The monument was unveiled in 1908 having cost pounds 4,707 ( nearly double the original estimate and more than the pounds 3,350 which had been raised by public subscription.

Victory holds a downturned sword in one hand and a laurel crown in the other.

At the base of the column, reaching up towards Victory, is the female figure of Northumbria.

She also once held a laurel branch in her hand but that has long been missing. This feature may be restored.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Sep 22, 2005
Words:435
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