14 May 2010
Town Statue Re-Rooted To Ballachulish
Fort William say 'Good Riddance!
A statue, once described as a "monument to fiscal incompetence", was up-rooted this week from the West End of Fort William High Street. The striking eight feet four inches Moray sandstone obelisk, installed in 1995 at a cost of £25,000 to commemorate the pedestrianisation of the majority of High Street, is to be relocated in Ballachulish.
In a tricky operation, contractors battled to lift the seven-tonne obelisk on to a low loader for its move south. Little affection was held among locals for the earth, wind, fire and water statue - with its unfortunate spelling howlers - and its demise is part of an ongoing £522,000 "Routes West" town centre regeneration project which includes a facelift of the "neglected" West End and upgrade of the pedestrian underpass linking High Street to An Aird.
The works, being undertaken by Alness-based contractor Pat Munro, are scheduled for completion by mid-July. The project includes a new start/finish point for the West Highland Way featuring a "Sore Feet" bronze statue at Gordon Square.
The now-departed obelisk certainly caused much scratching of heads of locals and visitors alike over the years.
The original brief drawn up for it stated that the sandstone artwork should be relevant to Fort William and its people - not something imposed on them by outsiders. However, the decorative features and incising on the finished article majored, for some obscure reason, on slate quarrying - an industry in which Fort William has absolutely no involvement.
Now, after a decade and a half, the obelisk, has been taken to Ballachulish, a village which does have connections with slate. Ballachulish Community Council intends to resite the obelisk. In 2008, Fort businessman and community councillor Drew Purdon summed up a general view of the obelisk when he said: "This was a monument to fiscal incompetence by a previous council who failed to meet its budget during pedestrianisation and failed to completely refurbish the street to the West End roundabout."
Taken from 'Lochaber News'. Picture: Iain Ferguson, The Write Image. 13th May