Street still closed after statue topples in high winds

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A CITY centre shopping street remains closed high winds continue to prevent the removal of an unsafe statue.

Part of High Street West in Sunderland was cordoned off on Saturday morning after the 5ft statue on the top of the Empire Theatre toppled in high winds.

Fallen muse... high winds toppled the figure which stands atop the Empire Theatre in High Street. The road was sealed off until efforts were able to get underway to removed the figure, which was hanging precariously above the theatre's domed tower.

Fallen muse... high winds toppled the figure which stands atop the Empire Theatre in High Street. The road was sealed off until efforts were able to get underway to removed the figure, which was hanging precariously above the theatre's domed tower.

A mobile crane cannot be erected until the wind drops significantly and a cordon, which stretches from the junction of Paley Street to the junction of Dun Cow Street, remains in place.

Drivers heading for the Astral, Solar and Planet House multi-storey car parks are being diverted via Union Street.

Sunderland City Council says it appreciates the difficulties the closure will cause, but safety of the public is the main concern.

A crane contractor has visited the site on Sunday morning, and a further inspection is due on Monday morning.

Coun Michael Mordey, the council’s portfolio holder for city services said: “We appreciate the potential issues this may cause local businesses and residents.

“We are working to resolve this matter as quickly and safely as possible.”

The Dun Cow pub is inside the cordon and is closed, although Vesta Tilley’s bar on the opposite side of the road is open.

“There’s no access to our front door,” said manager Dave Clark. “But customers can get in the back door.

“I reckon we lost about 20 or 30 per cent of trade on Saturday.”

A passer-by spotted the toppled statue at about 10am and told theatre staff.

They contacted police, and the decision was taken to close the street on safety grounds.

A production by the Muriel Harrison School of Dance due to take place in the theatre on Saturday night was cancelled.

The statue, which is of Terpsichore, the Greek muse of song and dance, sits on top the Empire’s 90ft tower.

“She is hanging by her feet at the moment,” said theatre general manager Ben Phillips. “Her position looks very precarious.”

The damaged statue is a copy of the original, which was removed during the Second World War for safety reasons after a bomb fell nearby.

The original is at the top of the theatre’s main staircase.