Just where the Dickens should his statue go?

Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens
The Purbrook team are, left to right, Jon Harvey, Elizabeth Norris and Peter Emmett

THIS WEEK IN 1975: Purbrook Park is a talking success

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PEOPLE are being urged to come up with suggestions for the location of a Charles Dickens statue.

A memorial to the Portsmouth-born author will be built in the city to mark the 200th anniversary of his birth next year.

Now the public are being asked where it should go.

Lord Mayor Paula Riches has already came up with several possible locations, including next to the monument of Dickens’ close friend, engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel in St George’s Square.

She has also suggested outside the library in Guildhall Square and the Dickens Precinct in Old Commercial Road.

The project will be funded by the Dickens Fellowship and Portsmouth City Council.

Fellowship member Professor Tony Pointon says the question of where the statue goes is a significant one.

He said: ‘The location of the piece has an effect on what the artist can do with it.

‘If it’s intended for Guildhall Square then the artist might create a big, grand piece, whereas if it’s going to be put in the precinct, then they might make a smaller and more intimate piece.

‘Personally, I would really like to see it in Guildhall Square because it would be accessible to everyone who visits the city.

‘It’s going be the only Dickens statue in the whole of England and will become a destination for people from all over the world – the square is a perfect place for such a big attraction.’

A decision on the location will be made by the Charles Dickens Statue Committee, of which the writer’s great-great grandson, Ian Charles Dickens, is a member.

City council leader, Gerald Vernon-Jackson, says he would be interested to see what the public suggest, adding: ‘I’ve had two suggestions so far, one for Commercial Road and one for St Mary’s Church in Fratton which is where Dickens was christened.

‘Both are good suggestions but I am interested to see what the response is because there might be better locations.’

Suggestions to: Prof Tony Pointon, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Portsmouth, PO1 3QL or email tony.pointon@port.ac.uk.