Stories Behind: A Duke with a Cone?

There are some statues that mark their presence with a twist. And, this is one of them: the statue of Duke of Wellington in Glasgow.

The statue is a part of the cityscape and famous with its cone on top of it.

The statue was erected in 1844. So, the story goes back some time. Not a definite one. It is not certain when the cone was first placed. But, one day, people of Glasgow woke up with a scene that an equestrian statue of a mighty Duke appeared to have a traffic cone on its head.

The statue was listed one of the top ten most bizarre monuments on Earth by Lonely Planet (inews). The statu is loved by the public and the tourists that it has many appearances such as the one below: a replica of the statue erected in the opening ceremony of Glasgow’s 2014 Commonwealth Games. Lovely, isn’t it?

duke of wellington cone statue

Image Credit: inews

Despite the statu’s popularity, the cone was removed and put back several times. The council even enacted some plans to end this tradition of putting the cone back. The plans were backfired, for obvious reasons. Who does not like a Duke with a cone? Why would it be another boring man with a horse?

The council had said that raising the height would end a practice which projected a “depressing image” of Glasgow and would save the £10,000 cost of removing the cone 100 times a year. The scheme would have seen a new granite-clad concrete base of 86cm (34in) added to the memorial to raise its overall height.

However, the council has reconsidered its decision after an online petition called “Save Wellington’s Cone”, which gathered thousands of signatories in just a few hours, and a Facebook campaign which had planned a rally in support of the cone.

A council spokesman said: “The wording of the report was appalling and the leader of the council (Gordon Matheson) has instructed officers to withdraw the planning application.” (BBC)

In addition, as the campaigners state “The cone on Wellington’s head is an iconic part of Glasgow’s heritage, and means far more to the people of Glasgow and to visitors than Wellington himself ever has.” (BBC). Also, in the campaign, there are a couple of good points which may affect the council’s decision such as  “does anyone really think that a raised plinth will deter drunk Glaswegians?”. Well, I agree with that!

There is one point we are not quite sure: What would Duke Wellington think about this? Luckily we have historians! According to inews, Dudley-Edwards argues that “Wellington himself would have been amused by the practice and embodied the ‘keep it coney’ ethos” as “He liked to keep it real”.

At the end of the day, the pair of the statue and the cone is a Rabelaisian embodiment, a standing in-your-face against mightiness of equestrian figures. While equestrian figures are usually associated with power and glorification of a person, the cone turns the statue into a human being again. It leaves you with a smile (and with a selfie apparently if you are visiting the city).

Even better, the statue is located right in front of the Gallery of Modern Art as the second twist in this story.

Yes, that is right. There is a classical equestrian statue right in front of a modern art gallery and it has a cone on the top of its head!

Bonus: A rare shot of the statue without a cone, but with a seagull!

 

(Image Credit: Top inews )

Advertisements

Stories Behind: The Statue of Tombili and the Cats of Istanbul

Tombili was one of the many street cats in Istanbul. A statue was erected to honour her and this is the story behind it.

Cities in Turkey, and Istanbul as the largest one, is famous with cats roaming free. Although the cats live o streets, it is hard to call them strays or feral cats. They co-habit with people for centuries. They are part of urban culture in the cities in Turkey. Recently an award-winning documentary on the lives of cats in Istanbul was in cinemas.

Individuls and sometimes municipalities take care of the needs of these beloved animal neighbours by feeding them and taking case of their health issues. For winter times, some individuals, NGOs and some municipalities locate cat houses on streets to help them to survive in colder days.

Tombili was a beloved cat citizen of Istanbul and roamed free on her street for almost 10 years. She became an internet celebrity when his famous pose is posted on the net. Tombili means chubby in Turkish and she is called as Tombili by her fellow humans for obvious reasons. A statue was erected on her favorite spot for her memory after her death.

Image may contain: cat

The Famous Photo of Tombili (Tombili Facebook Page)

People loved her so much. She became a mascot for the street with her laid back lifestyle. After her death, people started a petition to honour her and collected more than 17000 signature, which let them to erect the statue in October 2016. I am not quite sure if it is the only street cat statue in the world, but it took an attention from the media all over the world.

 

 

Unfortnately, not everyone values the friendship between Tombili and fellow humans. The statue was stolen in November in the same year, almost in a month. It sparked an outrage in the public and on the internet. Social media outlets were flooded with anger from people condemning the culprits.

Kadikoy municipality, the council which erected the statue twitted “It is stolen” with a crying cat emoji:

The thieves could not be indifferent to this massive outcry, and returned the statue to its place within a week. The statue is now on Ziverbey Street, Kadikoy, where it belongs. Tombili is still in her neighbours’ lives with this statue.

The Tombili statue on Ziverbey Street (Image Credit: Tombili Facebook Page)

And this is the story of Tombili and her legacy.

Tombili (Image Credit: Anadolu Kedisi / Huffington Post)

Stories Behind: Mary Barbour and The Legendary Rent Strike

I am starting new series called “Stories Behind” focusing on the stories behind statues on the streets.

The series starts with a brave woman, Mary Barbour, whose statue was erected in Govan, Glasgow today at the International Women’s Day.

The early 1900s were the times of overcrowding and poor living conditions in Glasgow. The rent strikes were against rent increases up to 25%.

Yet the Glasgow Women’s Housing Association, established before 1914 to fight for better housing conditions, soon galvanised growing discontent over the increases by calling for a city-wide rent strike … . Early support from the areas closest to the shipyards, such as Govan and Partick, where tens of thousands were crammed into poorly maintained tenements, soon spread across much of the city. By September 1915 around 20,000 households were on rent strike in Glasgow alone, and the protests were spreading to other parts of the west of Scotland and beyond. (theconservation)

Mary Barbour was a leading figure in these epic rent strikes in Glasgow in 1915. They form eviction resistance groups, mainly women, which were dubbed as “Mrs Barbour’s Army”. (commonspace) This is how they organised the strike and prevent evictions:

one woman with a bell would sit in the tenement close, watching while the other women living in the tenement went on with their household duties. Whenever the Bailiff’s Officer appeared to evict a tenant, the woman in the passage immediately rang the bell, and the other women put down whatever work they were doing and hurried to where the alarm was being raised. They would hurl flour bombs and other missiles at the bailiff, forcing him to make a hasty retreat.  It is said they even pulled down his trousers to humiliate him! (Remember Mary Barbour)

As a result of the successful fundraising Remember Mary Barbour Campain, the statue was erected and commemorate her legacy and as a constant reminder of the legendary rent strike in Glasgow. It was a very crowded commemoration with several groups of people gathered around the statue.

Some stories are never forgotten. After a hundred years, Mary Barbour’s statue now stands at Govan Cross. Well-deserved Mary.

 

(Image credit: Top Eveningtimes / Bottom Personal Archive)