Fleetwood celebrated an historic occasion when a £40,000 bronze statue of the town’s visionary founder was officially unveiled.
Without Sir Peter Hesketh Fleetwood, the Fylde coast port would not exist.
The town was Sir Peter’s brainchild and he sank his own fortune into the project, becoming almost bankrupt as he followed his dream.
Fleetwood became the first planned town of the Victorian era when building began in the mid 1830s.
Despite this, there has never been a statue of the founder in the town- until now.
A huge crowd gathered in the town’s Euston Gardens on Sunday afternoon to see Tony Attard OBE, the High Sheriff of Lancashire, pull away the purple shroud to reveal the statue, glinting in the sun.
Created by the artist and sculptor Alan Ward, it depicts Sir Peter holding a lighthouse, while at his feel is a rabbit, illustrating that the land was originally a mass of rabbit warrens.
William Hargreaves, chairman of the statue fundraising group, said: “There was massive turn-out, it’s been a brilliant day for Fleetwood.
“For over an hour afterwards, people were having their picture taken with the statue, the day was enjoyed by everyone who was there.”
The statue was the fruition of four years hard work by the Fleetwood Civic Society and all its supporters and benefactors locally and from around the world.
While unveiling the statue, Mr Attard paid tribute to Sir Peter’s vision and determination to build a brand new resort town and port, on his own land, for the people of Lancashire.
Sir Peter had also held the position of High Sheriff and MP.
The ceremony was introduced by Poulton Le Fylde Town Crier, Mike Middleton and Mr Hargreaves, with music provided by Thornton Cleveleys Brass Band.
Local historian and author Catherine Rothwell was also at the ceremony and said: “This is God’s gift to the whole town, and its something we should have done years ago.
“A duty now has been fulfilled.”
Dick Gillingham, of Fleetwood Museum Trust, added: “This should be a big boost to Fleetwood’s tourism, and a fantastic asset to promote the history of the town and for school groups visiting Fleetwood.”
Following the ceremony, a reception was held at the North Euston Hotel and a special cake in the form of Fleetwood’s Lower Lighthouse, made by confectioner Georgia Bottmley of Creative Cupcakes in the town, was cut.
And a short play about Sir Peter Hesketh’s life was organised and performed by members of the Windmill Players at the reception, on a historic day to remember.