There are plenty of monuments around the UK to the Duke of Wellington, often accompanied by his horse, Copenhagen. Arthur Wellesley (1769-1852), the 1st Duke of Wellington, was a leading political and military figure of 19th century Britain, widely recognised for his defeat of Napoleon in the Battle of Waterloo.
One of the equestrian monuments towers over Royal Exchange Square in Glasgow. It is the work of Italian artist Carlo Marchetti; it dates back to 1844 and has become an iconic site in Glasgow.
In the 1980s, some of the local residents developed the desire to accessorise the monument. The previously hatless Duke started to acquire a touch of coiffure. No simple perm or donation of a tam o’shanter here, though: he was given a classic traffic cone instead.
The City Council were somewhat distressed and claim to have spent a round £10,000 per year since then removing the cones that are added regularly. In 2013 plans were developed to double the height of the plinth as part of a £65,000 restoration and protection project. This provoked widespread public opposition, including a Facebook campaign called “Keep the Cone” and a well-supported online petition.
The Council dropped its proposals and it seems to have been accepted that the cone addition has come to mean as much, if not more, than the original statue, to both locals and tourists. In 2011, the Lonely Planet guide included the behaved monument in its list of the “top 10 most bizarre monuments on Earth”, and the Duke now receives a special hat from time to time, including a golden traffic cone during the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
And good old Copenhagen sometimes gets a treat too.
Copyright Debbie Smyth, 20 July 2017
Posted as part of Unusual