Galashiels statue is back in place after becoming 'a victim of its own success'

Two old pals met up again in Galashiels town centre this week – and it’s great news for the town.

By Paul Kelly
Wednesday, 27th October 2021, 7:51 am
Councillor Sandy Aitchison with the wee man in Galashiels. (Photo: Bill McBurnie)
Councillor Sandy Aitchison with the wee man in Galashiels. (Photo: Bill McBurnie)

Little Jock has returned the town’s Market Square after an enforced leave of absence.

The popular statue was found flattened at the end of August after becoming a ‘victim of his own popularity’.

But now he’s back standing proudly beside fellow mini-statue Wee Jeannie and a figure depicting Victorian candy maker Robert Coltart,

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Welcome back Jock. (Photo: BILL McBURNIE)

And Councillor Sandy Aitchison, one of the driving forces in the sculptures by Innerleithen-based artist Angela Hunter being commissioned, was there to welcome him.

The sculptures have become a big hit with local children and tourists – and that may be one of the reasons for Jock’s ‘downfall’.

Originally it was thought the statue had been targeted by vandals, but that was ruled out by the police after a probe.

Instead a certain amount of ‘rough treatment’ from his adoring public may have led to the collapse.

Councillor Sandy Aitchison with Gala's returning wee man. (Photo: BILL McBURNIE)

It has been repaired and reinstated at a cost of less than £1,000 after work carried out at the Powderhall Foundry in Edinburgh.

Sandy said: “I would rather say that his popularity led to his downfall. A lot of people had put their arms around him, had selfies with him and the basic connection on the plinth has not been strong enough and finally it loosened and got knocked off its pedestal.

"He came in for rough treatment but the intention for all three statues was that they would be interactive and that people would stand beside them and have selfies and that has been a huge success because nearly every time you pass there is someone getting their photograph taken with them.

"I’d now rather now look at the positive side. He’s now stronger than before and has a nice plinth to stand on. So welcome home, Jock.”

Robert Coltart was a mill worker in Galashiels in the 1870s who made aniseed-flavoured toffee he sold around all the fairs and markets in the Borders. He played his whistle and made up his song to call the children to buy his sweets.

Jock’s repair was carried with funds provided by the Scottish Government’s place-based investment programme.