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Town’s sculpture needs replacing after suffering from vandalism and graffiti

PUBLISHED: 09:59 18 September 2020 | UPDATED: 10:26 18 September 2020

An appeal has been launched to replace the 3.5-tonne wooden sculpture, created by the late chain-saw artist Ben Platt-Mills in 2006, at Harding’s Pits in King’s Lynn, which commemorates a town’s whaling history. Picture: Hardings Pits Community Association

An appeal has been launched to replace the 3.5-tonne wooden sculpture, created by the late chain-saw artist Ben Platt-Mills in 2006, at Harding’s Pits in King’s Lynn, which commemorates a town’s whaling history. Picture: Hardings Pits Community Association

Hardings Pits Community Association

An appeal has been launched to replace a wooden sculpture which commemorates a town’s whaling history.

The 20ft whale is assembled at Harding's Pits in 2006  Picture: Ian BurtThe 20ft whale is assembled at Harding's Pits in 2006 Picture: Ian Burt

The 3.5-tonne statue at Harding’s Pits in King’s Lynn was carved from a single oak tree trunk by the late chain-saw artist Ben Platt-Mills in 2006.

It was designed with other sculptures at the site as part of a project with South Lynn schoolchildren after the wildlife-rich community area was declared a doorstep green.

The area borders part of Lynn where the whaling fleet was built and based from the 16th to the 19th Century.

Lynn boats would sail to Greenland and return towing whales behind them, before their blubber was boiled up for lamp oil.

Hardings Pits Doorstep Green, in King's Lynn, which stands near the former base of the town's whaling fleet on the River Nar Picture: Chris BishopHardings Pits Doorstep Green, in King's Lynn, which stands near the former base of the town's whaling fleet on the River Nar Picture: Chris Bishop

In recent years the statue has suffered from graffiti and vandalism, parts are showing signs of rot, and it is reaching the point where it will need to be replaced. The tail may need to be removed on safety grounds.

Harding’s Pits Community Association, (HPCA) which manages the site off Harding’s Way, has begun working with chainsaw artists’ collective Tree Sculpture to come up with a replacement or an equally iconic feature. It says it is open to suggestions from the local community.

HPCA chair Rob Archer estimates that replacing the feature will cost £10,000 - £12,000. It hopes to raise the money from grants and a crowd funding appeal.

Mr Archer said: “Raising the funds is going to be a major challenge for us, as we are all volunteers and we manage the site on a tiny budget, but we believe that the Great Whale has become a much loved King’s Lynn feature, visible to people arriving in town from South Lynn and on the National Cycle Network, as well as bus passengers on Harding’s Way.

“It needs to be replaced with something that stands out and reflects the unique history of the area.”

“As the South Lynn community grows, Harding’s Pits is becoming more and more important as a public open space – which the pandemic lockdown has highlighted. We want to hear from everyone – young people especially.”

The association can be contacted online via hardings-pits.org.uk.


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