Work has started this week to create a lasting memorial to fishermen who have lost their lives at sea in North Tyneside.
The sculpture, Fiddler’s Green, will stand proudly overlooking the North Sea on land near the sands at the Fish Quay in North Shields.
It is the brainchild of retired local fisherman Henry Howard who wanted to honour those who have died doing their job after leaving the port of North Shields.
A campaign to raise the £75,000 needed to make the idea a reality was launched by the North Shields Fishermen’s Heritage Project (NSFHP).
Thanks to the generosity of the community and local businesses plus the support of North Tyneside Council and Places for People and Urban Splash, the joint venture working to regenerate the Smith’s Dock shipyard site, the money was raised in less than a year.
Renowned sculptor Ray Lonsdale, the man behind the famous Tommy sculpture in Seaham, was chosen to create the memorial following a public vote. He is busy putting the finishing touches to the creation, which is inspired by an image of a fisherman taken in 1959 by local photographer Harry Hann, ready for it to be installed and unveiled next month.
Work, which is being carried out by Robertson Construction, the company behind the restoration of the Spanish City Dome in Whitley Bay, began on Tuesday to prepare the land for the sculpture’s arrival.
Elected Mayor Norma Redfearn said: “I am delighted to see this work begin – this is a major milestone for the project and it’s great that the memorial is edging closer to becoming a reality.”
Henry Howard, vice-chairman of NSFHP, said: “I’m absolutely over the moon that work is starting on the site where the memorial will be in just a few weeks’ time.
“From the very start, support for the project has been overwhelming and I can’t thank everyone enough for the help they’ve given us.”
The groundworks are expected to take around two weeks to complete and the sculpture will be transported to the site shortly before the grand unveiling on Sunday, September 24, when Fiddler’s Green Day will take place from 11am until 1pm and feature live music, a parade of fishermen and a rendition of the song, Fiddler’s Green.