Equestrian statue of the Duke of Wellington, Glasgow

The equestrian statue of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington located outside the Royal Exchange, now known as the Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow, Scotland, is one of Glasgow's most iconic landmarks.

The statue has become known for having traffic cones placed upon its head

It was sculpted by Italian artist Carlo Marochetti and erected in 1844, thanks to public subscription to mark the successful end in 1815 of the long French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars. Since at least the 1980s it has been traditionally capped with a traffic cone by members of the public. The statue is a Category A listed sculpture.

Statue edit

Statue of the Duke of Wellington on his horse Copenhagen unveiled in front of the Royal Exchange, in Royal Exchange Square, Glasgow in 1844.

The statue of the Duke on his favourite horse Copenhagen was sculpted by Italian artist Carlo Marochetti and erected in 1844. The statue is a Category-A listed monument.[1]

Traffic cone edit

In recent times the statue has become known for being capped with a traffic cone.[2] Adorning the statue with a cone had continued over many years: the act was claimed to represent the humour of the local population and was believed to date back to at least the 1980s.[3][4][5][6]

In 2005, Glasgow City Council and Strathclyde Police took a stance of asking the public not to replace the cone, citing minor damage to the statue and the potential for injury when attempting to place a cone.[4][5]

In 2011 the Lonely Planet guide included the statue in its list of the "top 10 most bizarre monuments on Earth".[7]

In 2013 Glasgow City Council put forward plans for a £65,000 restoration project, that included a proposal to double the height of its plinth and raise it to more than six feet (1.8 metres) in height to "deter all but the most determined of vandals".[8] Their planning application contained an estimate that the cost of removing traffic cones from the statue was £100 per callout, and that this could amount to £10,000 a year.[6] The plans were withdrawn after widespread public opposition, including an online petition that received over 10,000 signatures.[9][10] As the council indicated that action against the practice could still be considered,[11] the art-political organization National Collective organised a rally in defence of the cone.[12]

In 2014, in support of the Scottish Independence referendum, the statue was fitted with a "Yes" cone as well as a flag fitted in the statue's stirrup.[13]

The cone was replaced with a gold painted one during the 2012 Olympics as a celebration of Scotland's contribution to the record haul of gold medals won by Team GB.[14] A replica of the statue, complete with cone, appeared at the 2014 Commonwealth Games opening ceremony,[15] and a gold cone was then again placed on the statue to mark the success of the games.[16]

In 2015, Glasgow City Council tested hi-tech CCTV software worth £1.2m, checking to see whether it could automatically detect people putting cones on the statue, which it could.[17]

On Brexit Day (31 January 2020) pro-European supporters placed a cone painted to represent the EU flag on the statue's head.[18]

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the statue was adorned with a cone and a blue surgical mask around the statue's ears to reflect the pandemic and lockdowns in the country.[19]

In March 2022, in support of Ukraine and as a protest against Russia's invasion of it, the statue was fitted with a cone with the colours of the Ukrainian flag.[20]

In June 2023 to promote his exhibition at the Gallery of Modern Art, artist Banksy declared that the statue was his "favourite work of art in the UK".[21] On 21 June, the Scottish climate change campaigning group This Is Rigged placed a cone with their logo on the statue, and invited Banksy to support their cause.[22]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "QUEEN STREET DUKE OF WELLINGTON STATUE (LB32823)". portal.historicenvironment.scot. Historic Environment Scotland. Retrieved 29 September 2019.
  2. ^ Leadbetter, Russell (12 December 2019). "Those were the days – the Duke of Wellington statue, 1950 and 1959 (NB: no cone)". The Herald. Glasgow. Retrieved 12 August 2020.
  3. ^ "Hat's not on, says lord provost". BBC News. 2 August 2000. Retrieved 23 January 2022.
  4. ^ a b "Historian unamused by city's joke about the duke". The Herald. 25 January 2005. Retrieved 9 February 2022.
  5. ^ a b Todd, Stephanie (16 February 2005). "Council in road cone statue plea". BBC News.
  6. ^ a b Farrell, Mike (11 November 2013). "Glasgow's iconic 'cone head' statue could be raised to stop vandals". STV News. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016.
  7. ^ McCloskey, Katy (29 September 2011). "Scottish sights among world's best". The Herald. Glasgow. Retrieved 5 December 2018.
  8. ^ Hall, John (12 November 2013). "'An iconic part of local heritage': Glasgow Council drops £65,000 plans to raise Duke of Wellington statue that regularly has traffic cones placed on its head". The Independent. Retrieved 9 February 2022.
  9. ^ "Plans to end cone tradition on Glasgow's Wellington statue 'to be withdrawn'". BBC News. 11 November 2013. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
  10. ^ McFadyen, Siobhan (12 November 2013). "Cone Man the Bavarian". glasgow.stv.tv. STV News. Archived from the original on 13 November 2013.
  11. ^ "Doubt remains over Glasgow Wellington 'cone hat' statue". 12 November 2013. Retrieved 12 November 2013.
  12. ^ "Glasgow rallies to save Wellington Cone". 12 November 2013. Retrieved 12 November 2013.
  13. ^ "Duke of Wellington nails his Yes colours to the referendum mast". HeraldScotland. Retrieved 1 November 2022.
  14. ^ "Duke of Wellington is awarded gold in honour of Scotland's success at the Olympics". Daily Record. 10 August 2012. Retrieved 23 February 2022.
  15. ^ McDonald, Gillian (16 March 2017). "Why Glasgow's Duke of Wellington statue was allowed to keep his cone". i. Retrieved 23 January 2022.
  16. ^ "Glasgow, Scotland, UK. 31st July, 2014". Alamy. Retrieved 23 February 2022. In celebration of the success of the Commonwealth Games, the regular and iconic red and white traffic cone on the head of the Duke of Wellington statue (normally put there as a student prank) has been replaced by one painted gold. The statue, with a traffic cone on top, outside the Gallery of Modern Art in Royal Exchange Square has been used as an example of Glaswegian humour and is a continuing interest to tourists and locals alike.
  17. ^ "New city surveillance system sparks call for urgent law change". The Ferret. 5 November 2015. Retrieved 17 March 2016.
  18. ^ "Scottish statue given pro-European makeover for Brexit Day". The National. Retrieved 23 February 2022.
  19. ^ Williams, Craig (28 April 2020). "The Duke of Wellington statue now has a face mask to accompany his traffic cone". GlasgowLive. Retrieved 11 August 2023.
  20. ^ "Glasgow's Duke of Wellington statue gets new Ukrainian themed traffic cone". Glasgow Live. 7 March 2022.
  21. ^ "Banksy to stage first solo exhibition in 14 years in Glasgow". bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 15 June 2023.
  22. ^ Fitzpatrick, Tara (23 June 2023). "Iconic statue cone that inspired Banksy show replaced". STV News. Retrieved 7 July 2023.

External links edit

Further reading edit

55°51′36″N 4°15′07″W / 55.86009°N 4.25199°W / 55.86009; -4.25199