First World War hero Tommy is at Seaham to stay

First World War statue Tommy is now a permanent fixture on the seafront.

The Tommy statue is lifted into place on its permanent plinth on Seaham seafront.
The Tommy statue is lifted into place on its permanent plinth on Seaham seafront.

A ceremony was carried out to install the sculpture onto its new base, where he will stay for up to 200 years.

To mark the milestone, a time capsule was buried in the ground underneath Tommy’s ammo box to tell future generations about his journey.

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A range of items have been placed inside the capsule, including stories from the Sunderland Echo about Tommy on a USB stick and a sealed letter written by the artwork’s creator, Ray Lonsdale.

Young and old alike were at the ceremony where Tommy was properly installed.

A T-shirt designed by a competition winner, pieces of work by school children and also written memories of war from older generations in Seaham were included.

David Stewart, chairman of the Mission 1101 committee, which campaigned to keep Tommy, said people have even donated items of war memorabilia for the time capsule, including a Victory Medal.

The First World War inspired sculpture was bought by the public after his initial loan to Seaham captured the hearts of the community.

Mission 1101 committee rallied round to raise the £85,000 needed to keep Eleven O One, named Tommy by fans, a permanent feature on the Terrace Green.

The Mission 1101 committee raised the money to keep Tommy in Seaham.

Now, the 1.2tonne steel artwork has been given a new permanent base because of huge numbers of visitors causing the ground around his feet to turn to mud. David said: “He is now a Seaham resident, we have officially adopted him.”

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David said the idea for the time capsule came from the community who felt it would be a lovely keepsake for future generations.

He said: “Tommy should last about 150-200 years on the coast before he needs to be moved or covered from the weather. So, we thought it was a nice idea to put the time capsule underneath the statue, so when it is moved it will give people an insight into how he came to be where he is.” Sunderland Echo managing editor Gavin Foster said: “We are immensely proud to have played our part in this fantastic project.”

A time capsule is buried beneath Tommy at Seaham, with Echo managing editor Gavin Foster and Mission 1101 chairman David Stewart.