The Boer War Statue
In the very centre of the town of Wigan lies a really well kept public park, called Mesnes Park (pronounced mains), and at the highest point of the park, right in front of the Pavilion at the top of a flight of stone steps lies the Boer War Statue and memorial.
The current statue, however, is not the original one that was erected, that was taken down in 1968 due to its state and the vandalism that it attracted. It is believed to have been buried somewhere at the back of the park, but it has yet to be uncovered.
The original statue was unveiled in 1903 to commemorate the men from Wigan who travelled and fought in the Second Boer was from 1899-1902. Now you might think that a little strange, why would a group of men go all the way to South Africa to fight?
Back in those days, the British Army was quite small, highly professional, but short of numbers and in this particular war, they were outnumbered so the call went out to the larger Commonwealth countries of Australia, New Zealand and Canada for troops along with those from these shores.
The war took place in the Transvaal and the Orange Free State against the Boers (the Dutch settlers) and at the time attracted a lot of controversy. The British fought the war to protect the rights of the British settlers in South Africa, but it was also the view that it was more about the gold and diamond mines of that area than democracy.
The stone plinth remained in place despite the original statue being removed and eventually in 2013 a new statue was commissioned and erected in its place. The new statue is less aggressive than the original, but still represents a solder from the Boer War and close up the detail is quite fantastic.
It also blends in perfectly with the Grade II listed Pavilion behind it.
The new statue is much more sedate than the original one which was carved out of marble and had a bronze flag and the figure brandished a pistol to complete the piece.
It cuts a fine figure against the sky above as well, really highlighting the detail and intricacy of the carving.