Elation for Woodbridge as Drummer Boy statue makes welcome return
PUBLISHED: 14:47 03 March 2018 | UPDATED: 14:32 04 March 2018
Cheers rang out around a town’s market square for the permanent return of a treasured statue.
The mayor of Woodbridge hailed the Drummer Boy’s unveiling on Market Hill as a homecoming for the town’s mascot.
Known formally as the Drums of the Fore and Aft, and inspired by Kipling’s story of a disastrous battle of the second Anglo-Afghan War, the statue was missing from the scenery since its removal from the old district council building in Melton Hill last August.
It was subsequently restored by Richard Rogers in Leatherhead and mounted on a stone base made by Spencer Wix in Rendlesham before its official unveiling on Saturday – marking an auspicious end to a period of uncertainty about its future.
A campaign was launched to prevent Suffolk Coastal’s plan for the statue to move to headquarters in Melton. When the district agreed to transfer custody, a public vote decided it should move to Market Hill – but the town council withdrew an application for the move after developers of the Melton Hill site revealed their survey suggested it should stay.
Active Urban Property Group then said it was no longer central to plans, so the town council commissioned the project.
Mayor of Woodbridge, Clare Perkins said: “It’s great to see the statue return. It feels like Woodbridge has its mascot back.”
Suffolk Coastal contributed £10,000 to the project from the budget set aside for moving offices. The remaining £8,000 came from the town council.
In the crowd were historian Bob Merrett, ex-mayors Nigel Barratt and Tony Hubbard, and Roger and Linda Seagers, founding members of the Woodbridge Heritage Group, which campaigned to keep the Drummer Boy in town.
Mrs Seagers said she was elated to see the statue’s return.
“It’s a fitting acknowledgement of the affection in which the Drummer Boy is held,” she said.
“It’s an appropriate place – opposite the Bull Hotel, which was headquarters of the Suffolk Yeomanry at the outbreak of the First World War.
“We’re enormously grateful to the town council for agreeing to take custody of the statue.”
Also present were Rob Soames and Keith Goldsmith, who moved the statue from the Quidenham estate of Diana Keppel, dowager countess of the Ninth Earl of Albemarle, when she moved to the area in 1962 before donating the statue to Woodbridge.