Thursday, 20 October 2011

Thompson and Muir delighted iconic Holywood Johnny the Jig statue saved



My fellow Alliance Holywood Councillor Larry Thompson and I are delighted following the recent decision by NI Environment Agency to abandon plans to de-list the iconic Johnny the Jig statue in Holywood, Co. Down.

Commenting on the development, Cllr Thompson stated “Following extensive lobbying by Cllr Muir and I, Holywood Conservation Group, North Down Borough Council, Historic Buildings Council, Ulster Architectural Heritage Trust and many concerned residents I am delighted that the NIEA has reconsidered their proposal and abandon plans to delist the statue. Without this protection the statue may have faced an uncertain future similar to other monuments across Northern Ireland which, over time, have either been destroyed or left to rot in storage warehouses.”

Concluding, Cllr Thompson stated “Johnny the Jig is an iconic statue by Rosamond Praeger, a well loved and respected local artist, which forms part of Holywood’s identity and will thankfully remain in place, protected in law. I would like to pay tribute to the Holywood Conservation Group for all their considerable work in helping to save Johnny the Jig from delisting."
Detailing the reasons to retain the statue as a listed structure, NI Environment Agency have stated: “We were persuaded to change our assessment by the level of local interest in the structure and the obvious significance it has for the people of Holywood and North Down”. NIEA previously described the statue as ‘a minor work of art with no special interest’.

When I learned about plans to de-list Johnny the Jig I immediately initiated a strong campaign to Save the Statue securing a meeting with top officials at NIEA and constantly lobbying them to abandon their scandalous plans to remove the protection afforded via listed status. NIEA’s decision is proof that a vigorous campaign can deliver results.

Whilst I am also delighted that the statue has been saved I will continue to work to save Holywood’s Heritage to ensure the Town remains an extremely attractive place to work, live or visit.

Johnny the Jig is a bronze figure of a boy playing an accordion and the work of local sculptress Sophia Rosamond Praeger, MBE, HRHA, MA (1867 - 1954). Her delightful bronze statue of a youngster playing the accordion was cast as a gift to the town and erected in 1953. It was created to commemorate a local Boy Scout named Fergus Morton who was killed in a road accident while doing  ‘Bob a Job’ in 1952.  

2 comments:

Robert Wade said...

Dear Cllr Muir,

My name is Robert Wade and I am now approaching 85 and has a boy lived in Holywood in Glenlion Cottage(demolished) on the edge of the "Marsh Estate" off Church Road. From 1937 to 1944.

In about 1941 my mother was approached by Miss Praeger to sit for her as a model for "Jonnie the Jig" I was aged about 10 at the time. I remember Miss Praeger as quite a stern lady, somewhat angular in appearance but with a hidden kindness which was displayed by the production of a bar of chocolate (severe sweet rationing at that time) with which she used to gently bribe me to sit still for quite long periods.

She gave us a photograph of the completed model on its wooden frame. I think the photograph was taken before the actual casting.

Some years ago I received a request from a gentleman in Holywood for any memorabilia concerning Jonnie the jig. I sent him the photograph with a request that he should have it copied and return it to me, sadly he never did.

To the best of my knowledge the statue was created for a hospital, maybe a children's one, but certainly not in memory of any individual.

I lost contact with Hollywood as we moved to County Tyrone in the summer of 1944 and in 1949 I joined the army, finally retiring in 1988 and I now live in Yorkshire.

If I can be of any further help regarding this matter, please do not hesitate to contact me.

My address is;- 1 Coopers Fold, High Street, Boston Spa, Wetherby, West Yorkshire, LS23 6SJ.
Telephone. (01937) 844603.

Yours sincerely,

Robert Wade.

Robert Wade said...

Dear Cllr Muir,

My name is Robert Wade I am approaching my 85th birthday and as a boy lived in Holywood from 1937 to 1944 in Glenlion Cottage (now demolished and replaced by modern bungalow) on the edge of the " Marsh Estate" off Church Road.

In 1941 my mother was approached by Miss Praeger to sit for a statue she was making. The statue was "Johnny the Jig".

My memory of this Praeger was of a stern but kindly angular lady who used to bribe me to sit still with bits of chocolate from her very small sweet ration.

This Praeger gave my mother a photograph of the completed statue still on its wooden support as it was when she worked on it, prior to casting. This photograph I sent to the gentleman in Hollywood who was requesting any items concerning Johnny the jig, with a request that he copied it and then returned it to me, sadly he failed to do this.

To the best of my knowledge the completed statue was sent to a hospital, possibly a children's hospital and was certainly never cast in memory of any individual.

In 1944 we left Hollywood and in 1949 I joined the Army, retiring in 1988 as a major.

If I can be of any further help please feel free to contact me. My address is;- 1 Coopers Fold, High Street Boston Spa, Wetherby, West Yorkshire. ls23 6SJ.
Telephone (01937) 844603.


Yours sincerely,

Robert Wade