Portsmouth leaders balk at £120,000 cost of proposed for statue honouring sailing hero Sir Alec Rose

PROPOSALS to build a £120,000 bronze statue honouring a British sailing hero have proven too costly for city leaders to back.

Thursday, 14th January 2021, 7:00 am
Sailor Alec Rose is met by cheering crowds of hundreds of thousands upon his return from a single-handed global circumnavigation, Southsea, Portsmouth, 4th July 1968. (Photo by Wood/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

A design for a life-sized monument of Sir Alec Rose, the Southsea greengrocer who circumnavigated the globe in 1968, had been presented to Portsmouth City Council earlier this year.

However, The News understands city culture chiefs – despite being supportive of an idea to commemorate Sir Alec, have balked at the cost of a statue.

‘It’s a hard thing to justify spending so much money on during the middle of a pandemic,’ one council insider told The News.

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An image of the proposed model of Sir Alec Rose, created by sculptor Vincent Gray.

Portsmouth City Council had been approached by veteran sculptor Vincent Gray with the designs, which was shown off to civic leaders, including city leader Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson and the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Councillor Rob Wood.

Mr Gray, who grew up in Portsmouth but now lives in Fishbourne, has already created a wax miniature of the design and said the new sculpture could help boost Portsmouth’s cultural credentials and support trade and regeneration in the city.

He added: ‘People like Sir Alec were the rock stars of their day. The period in the 1960s was extraordinary, we had all these world breaking events.

‘Sailors were circumnavigating the globe, astronauts were landing on the moon. They were superheroes. They were inspirational and we should celebrate them.’

But Councillor Steve Pitt, Portsmouth’s culture boss, said he did not believe the statue was the right way to mark Sir Alec’s achievement.

‘It would be great to explore having a permanent recognition for what Alec Rose achieved but I’m just not convinced that a statue is necessarily the right way to do it,’ he said.

The senior Lib Dem added the council was more interested in creating a permanent tribute as part of the city’s multi-million pound coastal sea defence scheme.

‘We’re very interested in exploring a permanent way of commemorating Alec Rose within the new sea defence proposals and we’re setting aside money to do that as we go forward with those enhancement works,’ he said.

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