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Cornhill Walk statues in Bury St Edmunds find new home with Abbeygate Sixth Form College





A piece of Bury St Edmunds history has been saved from the potential scrapheap following a SuffolkNews campaign.

Statues of St Edmund and Abbot Samson which have stood in Cornhill Walk since 2001 were left gathering dust after the shopping centre closed in 2016.

With plans to demolish the dilapidated centre to make way for 43 homes and two commercial units, the sculptures were at risk of being lost forever – until we launched an appeal to find them a new home.

Kate Brown, head of faculty at Abbeygate Sixth Form College. Picture: Sam Harrison
Kate Brown, head of faculty at Abbeygate Sixth Form College. Picture: Sam Harrison
Firefighters from Red Watch helped to bring down the statue of St Edmund on Friday. Picture: Sam Harrison
Firefighters from Red Watch helped to bring down the statue of St Edmund on Friday. Picture: Sam Harrison

On Friday, firefighters from Red Watch removed St Edmund from above Cornhill Walk’s entrance.

Among them was Paul Turner, who had helped to place the statue there 23 years earlier.

The polystyrene sculptures are now at Abbeygate Sixth Form College to be repaired by students and repurposed to share the history of Bury with the next generation.

Kate Brown, head of faculty at Eastern Education Group, said: “We look forward to working with students from across the Eastern Education Group and Bury Education Partnership to restore the statues to their former glory.

“They will be used to support the teaching of our local history.

“We are also hoping we might display them on rotation through multiple sites so students from across the region will be able to appreciate, learn and benefit from them.”

Little is known about the statues’ origins but it is believed they were commissioned by St Edmundsbury Borough Council in the 1980s to go in the Abbey Visitors’ Centre, before they moved to Cornhill Walk.

Mr Turner was on his probation period in 2001 when he received the call to lift the martyr on to the ledge.

He said: “It’s funny seeing it come down when I helped put it up in the first place. People have described it as bookending my career.”

Watch manager Simon Cornwell said: “As a part of the community, the fire service is always happy to help out and it’s quite fitting Red Watch are helping to take the statue down when they originally helped install it.”

Firefighters from Red Watch helped to bring down the statue of St Edmund on Friday. Picture: Sam Harrison
Firefighters from Red Watch helped to bring down the statue of St Edmund on Friday. Picture: Sam Harrison
Firefighter Ben Dinner (CORR), watch manager Simon Cornwell, firefighter Sue Turley and firefighter Paul Turner. Picture: Sam Harrison
Firefighter Ben Dinner (CORR), watch manager Simon Cornwell, firefighter Sue Turley and firefighter Paul Turner. Picture: Sam Harrison
Kate Brown, head of faculty at Abbeygate Sixth Form College with deputy principal Stuart Small. Picture: Sam Harrison
Kate Brown, head of faculty at Abbeygate Sixth Form College with deputy principal Stuart Small. Picture: Sam Harrison

Although the statues have been rescued, questions still remain with what will happen to Cornhill Walk now its last residents have officially moved out.

The Knightspur Homes proposals are still awaiting a decision from West Suffolk Council.

SuffolkNews editor Barry Peters thanked Red Watch and staff from Bedfords for their support in finding the statues a new home.