Statue to come in from the cold

Statue of James Wilson, the nineteenth century Economist who was born in Hawick.
Statue of James Wilson, the nineteenth century Economist who was born in Hawick.

A new home is being sought in Hawick for a statue of one of the town’s most famous sons, James Wilson, founder of the Economist magazine.

A marble tribute to Wilson, alive from 1805 to 1860, was created by Edinburgh sculptor John Steell in 1865 and until last year stood in the Economist’s old head office in London.

The 12ft-high sculpture was gifted to Hawick after the magazine moved office, and it arrived in town last August, taking up a place of honour outside Tower Knowe.

However, in December the statue was damaged - two fingertips from its right hand found to be missing - and despite the police being contacted, it was not established if the damage was accidental or down to vandalism.

A second concern over it remaining in the open air is the potential for further weather damage.

Those concerns have led the trustees of Hawick’s common good fund to look at moving it inside a secure building.

Hawick and Hermitage councillor Watson McAteer said it is important to preserve the structure for future generations to view.

He said: “The common good trustees have asked council officers to explore possible options for removing the James Wilson statue from its current location to a more secure home within suitable premises in the town.

“The statue has been subject to some minor damage, and the recent poor weather has increased the potential to cause further problems to a structure that has spent most of its life in India or within the Economist offices in London.”