Our Emlyn

April 18, 2008 at 16:01 | Posted in Barrow, sport, statuary | 4 Comments

Emlyn Hughes statue

This one is hot off the press. Another of Barrow’s favourite sons had a statue unveiled today – Emlyn Hughes, a sporting captain who has never been surpassed.

I’m referring, of course, to his captaincy on the BBC quiz A Question of Sport, which has not been graced with another with the same intelligence and wit. The same could probably be said of the England football team, which he also captained though ironically in a long career he never appeared in a World Cup or European Championship. He did, however, captain the greatest club side England has ever known, Liverpool under Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley, and took them to four League Championships, two European Cups and an FA Cup.

I’ll say this too, you’d never have caught him posing in celebrity restaurants, getting pissed in nightclubs, being involved in gang rape, or any of the other antics of today’s pea-brained premiership prima donnas.

The Spirit of Barrow

April 11, 2008 at 11:43 | Posted in Barrow, statuary | 9 Comments

The Spirit of Barrow

Right at the central crossroads of Barrow’s shopping centre, where Dalton Road, Crellin Street and the awful, modern, could-be-anywhere Portland Walk (which I will show when I can bring myself to) meet, is the huge bronze sculpture The Spirit of Barrow. It’s another piece by Chris Kelly, who gave us the Willie Horne (qv) statue.

One of the four figures facing different ways from the crossroads is a young man with a sledgehammer, all rippling muscles, noble good looks and socialist realism (or perhaps he dropped out of a Pre-Raphaelite painting celebrating the dignity of labour.) The other three are rather grittier: an electrician, a welder, and a fitter complete with pipe wrench who is my favourite, which is why I’ve chosen to focus on him. I like him because he’s such a quintessential Barrovian. Especially the face. And the hunched-but-full-of-purpose gait.

Willie Horne

April 1, 2008 at 14:15 | Posted in Barrow, rugby league, sport, statuary | 3 Comments

As a Victorian town, Barrow has its statues of long-dead local worthies.  A berobed Ramsden the Railway Baron gazes up his ceremonial avenue of Abbey Road, while similarly berobed Schneider the Ironmaster glares at him from the top of Duke Street.

Barrow’s real hero, though, is Willie Horne, and he can be seen at the unfashionable end of Duke Street skipping impishly, in heavy studded and laced boots caked in mud, towards that great touchdown in the sky.  Barrow’s rugby league team is now a modest affair, playing National League 2 games at their ramshackle Craven Park stadium, but once they were a power in the land, appearing in five Challenge Cup finals and winning it once, in 1955 when they beat Workington Town 21-12 at Wembley, with Willie Horne receiving the cup as captain.  He also captained Great Britain, and some – mostly diehard Barrovians I suspect – regard him as the greatest rugby league player there ever was.

That was Barrow’s finest hour, and one often feels that the town tries doggedly to cling to it, for in some ways in Barrow it is forever 1955.

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