New funding bid for statue of ‘true Chichester hero’

A statue of Admiral Sir George Murray and Lord Nelson is planned for Chichester (photo submitted).
A statue of Admiral Sir George Murray and Lord Nelson is planned for Chichester (photo submitted).

A new funding bid for a statue to commemorate a ‘true Chichester hero’ is set to be submitted.

Admiral Sir George Murray, who was mayor of the city in 1815, was a close friend and confidant of Lord Nelson.

A full-size sculpture of the two together on a plinth in front of the Jack Wills store in North Street is planned as this was the one-time home of Murray’s brother Richard and is close to the Ship Hotel which Murray built as his home.

However an application for New Homes Bonus (NHB) funding for the project was rejected by Chichester District Council due to concerns the project might be considered self-commissioning by the sculptor and a failure to demonstrate community support.

Richard Plowman, a city and district councillor, explained that a second submission for NHB funding would be put together addressing CDC’s concerns, during an update to Chichester City Council’s Community Affairs Committee last Monday (June 4).

The Murray Club held a successful relaunch of the project in March, with a maquette of the sculpture on display in the Oxmarket to gather public support.

Mr Plowman said: “There’s a huge amount of public support for this. It will be good for the tourist industry in Chichester.”

Murray, who has been described as a ‘true Chichester hero’, was Nelson’s captain of the fleet but missed the Battle of Trafalgar as he was in the UK dealing with his father-in-law’s will.

The project is seeking an initial £26,000 to create a full-size resin sculpture on a plinth. Once it is in place they would then seek further funding and invite bids for a permanent bronze statue.

He asked for city council support for the new bid for NHB funding and suggested to demonstrate this it could either adopt the project, with the Murray Club becoming the delivery partner, or formally endorse it and offer some officer time.

Under any of the scenarios the project is not seeking any direct funding from the city council.

Tony Dignum, who is also leader of CDC, suggested the city council needed to be totally sure it did not take on any financial risks.

On the point about self-commissioning he described how the NHB rules are ‘quite clear’ on the need for competitive quotations.

But Mr Plowman argued the three quotations would be sought at the stage when they look to commission the bronze version of the statue.

Vincent Gray, the man behind the Keats sculpture in Eastgate Square, is involved in the project.

Nigel Galloway, chair of the committee, asked if they were certain the statue would be there in perpetuity.

Mr Plowman explained how the owners of the land were very supportive of having the statue.

The committee agreed to note the update.

Mr Plowman said: “I think this has been very useful chairman. At the end of the day there will be a submission for New Homes Bonus one way or another.”

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Plans to commemorate a “true Chichester hero”