THEY have stood guard over a historic clock tower building for decades, but had to be removed after a vandalism attack.
And now after years of careful restoration, the grand wooden statues of medieval soldiers known as Gog and Magog have returned to the front of Tony Wood Hairdressing in Castle Road, Southsea.
A lot of people say they used to walk past here as children and look up to themTony Wood
Mr Wood, 48, said he was delighted the statues were once again flanking the doors of his business.
He said: ‘Everybody around here loves them.
‘I have heard a lot of people say they used to walk past here as children and look up to them, and say they’re glad the soldiers are back.’
Mr Wood said the statues’ return was ‘the icing on the cake’ of a long-term restoration of the building which started when his business moved in 12 years ago.
Mr Wood said the statues were restored by a Portsmouth-based craftsman over the past five years.
He said he paid for the project himself. Mr Wood said: ‘It has taken a lot of patience and a lot of haircuts to get the money needed to get them restored.’
But a mystery over who made the statues remains.
Mr Wood said they had been part of the building since it was built in 1904, but their origins were unclear.
He said: ‘The story goes that they were carved by the figurehead carvers at the dockyard, but we don’t know if that’s true.
‘The building was built around the time that figurehead carving was slowing down as a trade.
‘But the soldiers are also carved around the back.
‘If they were made to go into that space, then why did they carve all the way around the soldiers?’
‘No-one knows for sure where they came from.
‘It’s a story that we’d love to find out more about if anyone can help.’
There is also a question mark over the significance of the figures.
As well as biblical figures, Gog and Magog are the mythical guardians of London.
Mr Wood said: ‘There is no comprehension of why they are guarding a building in the city of Portsmouth.’
The soldiers are made of wood and are finished with many layers of teak oil.