One of Preston’s leading ladies has found her way home.
The 19th century, hard-carved statue of a naked woman was a familiar sight in the town centre for generations, standing tall on top of the Port Admiral pub in Lancaster Road, beside Lord Nelson and Napoleon.
Mystery surrounded her identity, with theories that she was the Belvedere Venus, Lady Emma Hamilton, Nelson’s mistress, or a copy of a Greek Slave girl by Hiram Powers, the most popular.
She was dubbed ‘the sauciest lass in Preston’ by the Evening Post in the 1960s, and her form inspired a crude nickname for the pub, which was razed to the ground in 1969 to make way for Ringway.
Now, with a busted nose and minus an arm, she is for sale at Ribble Reclamations in Ducie Place, Preston.
Yard manager Dale Sumner said: “When the pub was demolished nobody knew where the statues ended up.
“Then a couple of years ago I was contacted by a wealthy businessman from Burnley who said he’d got them all in his massive grounds.
“I went over and they were all there – the lady, Napoleon, Nelson, and the lion and the unicorn which were on either corner of the frontage. The man wanted big money for all of them, so I had to walk away.”
Recently Dale took a call from a friend in the reclamation business, who told him that the collection had been broken up, and the lady was for sale at auction in North Yorkshire.
After some consideration, he decided to buy the item, because of her significance to Preston.
He added: “Her arm’s broken off and there’s some other wear and tear, but you often find that from items recovered from demolition sites.
“She’s part of Preston’s history and will still be known to a lot of people in this area.
“I’m selling her as she is, and there’s quite a bit of interest. I’ve already had an offer of £4,000 for her from a London buyer, but I’d like to see her stay in the city and go back on public display.”
The Port Admiral pub was built in 1854 and it is thought that a the statues were made by William Bradshaw of Aqueduct Street.