The Other Statue
Feature from 2007
Everyone knows about the statue of Eric Morecambe on the promenade of his beloved home town, but did you know there is another, less heralded statue? In the early 70’s a statue was commissioned and displayed as part of the British Genius exhibition and after a brief tour vanished from the public eye. Basic details were all we had, including a black and white photograph (included in the 1981 biography, There’s No Answer To That), which we placed in the Awards section of the site.
Photo in There's No Answer To That
Its last resting place is well known, but only to locals of the nearby town, but for the majority of Morecambe and Wise fans, it has disappeared without trace, that is, if they even knew about it in the first place.
In October 2007, after a brief information gathering exercise, we set off in search of the missing statue.
All we had to go on were two reports including one from a friend of Eddie Braben. Both pointed to specific place in the UK, but both equally obscure. The only solid information we had was a name, a name of a town in the South of England that both reports mentioned; Hungerford.
In desperation we search Google Earth and picked out two possible places that matched the descriptions we had. All we knew at the time was that the statue, last seen in 2002, was in a field somewhere close to Hungerford.
With this flimsiest of data, we set off on a crazy quest that would take us on a 368 mile round trip to the south of England, and eventually give us the answers we were looking for.
The statue at Battersea Park 4th Sep 1977
The day started at 5am, and we set off in the darkness, hopeful that the day would bring pleasant answers and easy driving. Only part of this we managed as the roads were busy, especially as we timed our arrival in Birmingham to coincide with the morning rush-hour.
With this past us, we pushed on and after a brief stop for food, we found ourselves in the vicinity of Hungerford with our two possible locations ahead. At this time we ran into fog, which wasn't ideal for spotting statues in fields, but the quest continued. Our first route would take us from the nearby town of Marlborough into Hungerford. As we approached the outskirts of Hungerford, we still had not spotted anything and as our mood began to drop, we began to plan for the other possible road. Luckily the fog began to lift making our task a little easier.
Then, suddenly, sat in a field about 60 yards off the main road, we spotted the pale blue colours and shape of some familiar characters. There they were, two fifteen foot fibreglass figures, poised in the pose we had seen in that old black and white photo.
By the time it took to register, we had passed the entrance and were forced to turn round further up the road before making our way back to the statue.
As we pulled up by the side of the figures, the 184 miles seemed to vanish, and we grabbed our camera and exited the car. After a few snaps, we went in search of more answers from the nearby farm house. Luckily someone was at home and over a coffee we discussed the statue and its journey to this field.
Commissioned in 1977 by the Arts Council, the statue was to form part of the British Genius exhibition at Battersea Park, London. The sculptor, Nick Munro, who crafted the figures from fibre glass, was invited to display it at a major sculpture exhibition in Regent Park, London.
For some bizarre reason the local residents were not pleased with it and produced a petition to have Eric and Ern removed. They called the statue ‘vulgar’, and in the end won the fight and it was sadly moved. After a brief tour it finished up in Sheffield where local hooligans defaced them.
At this time, roughly 1980, the boys were given to John Makepeace and sited in the grounds of Parnham House. They stayed there until approximately 2000, at which point the house was sold and the statue was to be moved again.
Offered back to the original sculptor, Nick Munro, they were loaded vertically onto a low loader and transported to there current resting place at Hopgrass Farm House, Hungerford.
The statue still draws admirers from passing drivers and holidaying boaters on the nearby canal. Youths again damaged the figure by throwing stones at it, breaking one side of Eric’s glasses. The boys are still in good repair despite there journey, and Nick’s son has informed us that they will soon be repaired and given a new coat of paint.
Any one wishing to visit them are most welcome, so if you are in the area, why not drop by and say hello to Eric and Ern. As we left, the fog had almost gone and so we took the opportunity to grab some more pictures before departing and our 184 mile return trip.
Since this feature was written, the statue has been moved to a new location and renovated. The location is unconfirmed but believed to be in South Wales.
For those arm-chair fans, you can always check out their old location on Google Earth – yes they are visible – using the following co-ordinates; 51°25'1.48"N ,1°31'58.81"W
See more images in our gallery
© morecambeandwise.com 2007