A town has helped shape a monument to its links with Lord Byron, with the finished piece now unveiled.
The 9ft sculpture was commissioned from Seaham artist David Gross, who fashioned the figures of the world-famous poet and his wife Annabella Milbanke, to commemorate their wedding at Seaham Hall in 1815.
In my view, Byron is synonymous with Seaham and it’s something the town can use to attract visitors.John Brady, manager of Byron Place shopping centre
The piece, which has taken 18 months to complete and is the brainchild of tourism group Destination Seaham, was unveiled yesterday, 288 years to the day when Byron was born.
It has been placed on land between Byron Place shopping centre and Church Street in the town, and has been carved out of oak, cherry and cedar.
Part of it was shaped by David inside the centre, with tales about Byron passed on to him from shoppers worked into it.
Primary schools have been involved in the project, backed with donations from the centre, Durham Heritage Coast and residents, with St Cuthbert’s, Westlea and Ropery Walk pupils from the town, and St Joseph’s in Murton among those to join yesterday’s celebrations.
David, whose son Seth, nine, also worked on the monument, said: “It’s nice it’s been put where lots of people will see it.
“It’s good to get people engaged about Byron and his history with Seaham.
“He had quite a bad reputation, but the more people find out about him, the more they learn about what he was really like and he’s very interesting.”
John Brady, centre manager, said: “In my view, Byron is synonymous with Seaham and it’s something the town can use to attract visitors.
“He was a colourful character and he might have been popular with the landed gentry, but it was here in Seaham that he married after all.”
Carol Hindmarch, a teacher at Seaview Primary before she retired, has worked on a leaflet about Byron with children to accompany the project.
She said: “It looks completely different to its setting and has its own space against an urban background. It’s something different and something really positive.”