A STATUE of Scotland’s national bard has been found abandoned in a deteriorating wooden crate in the basement of a council building.
The marble statue of Robert Burns was found in a council building in Hamilton, with the crate it was stored in having been attacked by vermin.
Burns enthusiasts are trying to raise funds to restore the statue so it can go back on display.
The statue was gifted to the council after Sir John Watson - a coal baron of Earnock Estate Hamilton - left it as part of an inheritance to one of his children, who sold off much of the family’s possessions.
The statue graced inside a council building until some work being undertaken commenced and it was packed away in a crate and forgotten about.
When it was rediscovered following intensive enquiries from Burns supporters, the council had no money to refurbish it - but did eventually offer to match whatever the local Burns Associations and Clubs could raise.
Gordon Ashley, an expert on Burns statues, alerted the Burns supporters to the fact that the statue was in an obscure crate which had been attacked by vermin. She told them that although marble statue itself was not badly damaged, the way in which it had been cared for was not acceptable.
It will cost nearly £10,000 to restore and refurbish.
Murdo Morrison, past President The Robert Burns World Federation and an Honorary President, said today: “The man who found it, Gordon Ashley, was home from Australia.
“He was in touch with everyone trying to track the statue down.
“It was abandoned, it could have been down there for 10 plus years.
“The sculptor is a very well known man in his field - world class at his time.
“The crate was in a terrible condition. Marble can be professionally cleaned though.
“The statue is now in a care and custody state rather than it being abandoned.
“There is a question mark over the its future. People in Lanarkshire want it to stay here, some are adamant that it will, as this is where it has always been.
“However, there are people out with the area who want it moved and will fight tooth and nail for that.
“Ideally, the statue would be displayed in a public building, indoors in a foyer or something like that so people can see it, but where it cannot be vandalised.”
The sculptor of the statue was Birnie Rhind. Many examples of his Boer War Memorials are to be seen in Edinburgh, his hometown, and he also created a sculpture featuring the Royal Scots Greys, the Black Watch and the Kings Own Scottish Borderers.
At one stage in his illustrious career he was based in Glasgow, and one of his award-winning bronze statues of James Walker Chairman of the North British Railway Company is in Glasgow Transport Museum.
Outwith Scotland he executed sculpture on Wakefield County Council Offices (1897), Liverpool Cotton Exchange (1905-6) and Winnipeg Parliament Building, Canada (1916-1919)
Enthusiasts of the bard in Lanarkshire and the Lothians are holding a concert to raise funds in order to restore the statue - set to take place next week - with recitations, songs, music of Burns and other sources ranging from popular Scots songs to a touch of Puccini.