Doncaster plans to honour poet Ted Hughes

Poet Ted Hughes
Poet Ted Hughes

FORMER poet laureate Ted Hughes’ links with Doncaster could soon be honoured with a bronze statue, a plaque and a tourist trail.

And now plans have been drawn up to celebrate former poet laureate Ted Hughes’ links with the borough with a bronze statue, a plaque and a tourist trail.

The celebrated writer, poet laureate from 1984 until his death in 1998, grew up in Mexborough and now a committee of his supporters are planning to launch a £100,000 funding appeal for a memorial.

The committee is made up of poets Steve Ely and Jack Brown, artist Ashley Jackson and sculptor Graham Ibbeson, who created the famous statue of late comedian Eric Morecambe. Peter Davies, mayor of Doncaster, has also expressed support.

Members have suggested the High Street or market area as a potential home for the statue.

They also hope to ask Hughes’ widow Carol to attend an official unveiling.

Mr Ely, aged 48, a father-of-two from Upton, who is writing a book about the poet’s early life, said: “There is no major memorial to him in Mexborough so he should be properly honoured.

“A lot of his early experiences influenced his work in later life.”

Mr Ibbeson’s statue for Eric Morecambe has generated millions in revenue from extra visitors for the seaside town of Morecambe. He believes a memorial to Hughes could attract tourists to Mexborough.

The 61-year-old, of Barnsley, said: “I’m told the Eric Morecambe statue has generated £130 million extra money since it was unveiled so I would expect a Ted Hughes one would definitely increase footfall.

“We are only in the initial stages and it may take three to four years before the project is completed.

“We need to raise the money first and then get planning permission.”

The committee hopes to secure private investment and public donations to a funding appeal.

More immediate plans may see a plaque sited on the wall of a shop at 75 Main Street in the coming months, which is where the poet lived with parents Billy and Edith, brother Gerald and sister Olwyn, from 1938 to 1951.

Ted moved to Mexborough from Mytholmroyd, West Yorkshire, when he was aged seven and left for university aged 19.

Also being put forward is a tourist trail taking in his former home, the old Mexborough Secondary School building - now the town business centre in College Road - and Manor Farm in Old Denaby, a favourite place of his.

The committee has held one meeting with Mr Davies and a council tourism officer, with more planned this year.

Mr Davies said: “I don’t think we do enough sometimes to honour the great and the good of Doncaster. Ted’s work influenced many people.

“I’ve asked our tourism officers to look into what benefits it could bring to Mexborough. But I think it will bring a lot of people in.”