Tommy sculptor Ray Lonsdale to create new statue for Sunderland's Vaux site

The man behind Seaham’s iconic Tommy statue is to create a new sculpture celebrating Sunderland’s brewing heritage.

Thursday, 27th June 2019, 13:53 pm
Ray Lonsdale in his workshop with his sculpture 'Men Don't Cry' funded by Culture for Hetton

The sculpture of a Vaux waggon pulled by two dray horses has been designed by Ray Lonsdale and commissioned by Sunderland City Council's development company for the former brewery site.

The council has also commissioned two more sculptures from Ray, which will pay tribute to the city's shipbuilding heritage, and be sited on footpaths overlooking the River Wear.

Ray Lonsdale's new sculpture will grace the Vaux site

The first is of two workers sat side by side as they read about the impending closure of the shipyards, while the second is based on Ray's own experience of his Dad taking him to see a ship being launched and shows a grandfather telling his grandson what it was like to see a launch.

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Coun John Kelly, city council Cabinet Member for Communities and Culture, said: "The former Vaux brewery holds a very special place in Sunderland's people’s hearts, so I think it's only right and proper we should celebrate Vaux's historic past at the same time as we look forward to its exciting future.

"Sunderland is rightly famed as having once been the largest shipbuilding town in the world and people are tremendously proud of their shipbuilding heritage. This is a very accessible way of celebrating our shipbuilding past and paying tribute all those who worked in the industry and made it the success that it was.

"We're expecting the first sculpture to take pride of place on site in 2022 followed by the other two by 2024.

Ray Lonsdale's Tommy statue

Ray Lonsdale said: "I am of an age that means I have first hand memories of the Vaux , horse drawn drays touring the streets making their deliveries. Everyone who can recall them seems to do so with affection.

“The two pieces to follow both represent the shipbuilding of the river Wear and its loss to the City."

Maquettes of the works will be on show at the Museum and Winter Gardens from today, Wednesday, June 27, to October, then the National Glass Centre until January and The Bridges until February.