Turn again to Dick to help Archway sparkle
The fountain lights extravaganza planned to illuminate ghastly Archway Tower (“A little bit of Las Vegas!”, Gazette, October 21) might turn out to be a ripsnorter, but as an influence on the milieu it will be an exercise in futility.
What the area really needs is the tangible presence of a beautifully sculpted statue of Dick Whittington on a plinth with real fountains around it to celebrate its importance on an international level as the genesis of a popular legend which, unfortunately, has been languishing in the doldrums despite being an integral part of the warp and weft of England’s cultural heritage.
For over 10 years I have ploughed a lonely furrow in appealing for a statue or frieze to constitute the linchpin for regeneration of this gateway to the city, but my entreaties have fallen on deaf ears.
The city that once regarded him as its most famous son and, even though he remains a global icon with an instantly recognisable silhouette, Londoners have all but forgotten him.
Buried too in the fog of history is the contribution of Richard Perkins, the proprietor of The Whittington Stone tavern in 1869, but for whose efforts we would be bereft of even the nondescript milestone on Highgate Hill after the wanton destruction of the original Whittington pediment and cross in 1795 and several replacements in its wake.
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Less than a century later the threat of a compulsory purchase order scuppered plans for retention of the Whittington Almshouse and statue at Archway.
Elsewhere in the city two statues of him are in inconspicuous locations peripheral to our range of vision. The one in the Guildhall is at the far end of the loggia and blends seamlessly with the wall behind and the other in a niche above Threadneedle Street is far too high to be noticed.
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There is good reason, therefore, for the council to apply for a grant to the Arts Council in collaboration with the Royal British Society of Sculptors to fund the commissioning of a statue of Dick Whittington to occupy pride of place on the Archway gyratory. A statue or frieze will prove to be a huge draw for tourists with the local area benefiting the most from the revenue generated. – Walter Roberts, Henfield Close, N19.