Leyland Market's statue mystery may have been solved

An eight-year search for Leyland Market’s mystery man may now be over.

Tuesday, 16th July 2019, 11:07 am
Updated Tuesday, 16th July 2019, 12:07 pm
The man believed to be the model for the Leyland Market statue

Attempts had been made to trace the identity of the man whose near-100-year-old photograph was used for the construction of the iconic bronze statue as part of a £300,000 regeneration project in the town centre.

Now, after the name Walt Barnes was suggested, confirmation is being sought.

The idea for the statue was taken from a 1920s photograph that captures Leyland Motors workers leaving the former North Works site, what is now the site of Leyland Market.

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The Leyland Market statue

The black and white picture shows hundreds of men in flat caps, suits and overalls coming out of the site after a busy day.

The statue is a reminder of the town’s rich industrial past, along with the Leyland Motors clock, the Leyland Wheel, and the Centurion Tank.

Back in 2011 the Guardian reported how a £100 reward had been offered to identify the person behind the statue.

The incentive was put forward by solicitor Derek Forrest, of Solicitor Direct, Hough Lane.

He said: “The statue has been a great addition to Leyland, making it a focus point that will hopefully attract more shoppers.

“It’s a great shame that the man has not been identified – he may not even have known his photograph was taken.”

Derek said: “It is unlikely his family know he was the inspiration for the feature.

“He is very much a working man, which is good to see.”

He added; “The man is shown going towards Towngate so he may have lived in that area – or may have just been off to the pub.”

This week Derek said: “If it is Walt it’s marvellous. We might even manage a little plaque of who it really was and put a little biography on it.”

He added; “I’m very pleased. If we can find out about the guy - a living, breathing Leyland, like we all are.”

As regards the reward, he joked: “I must have been flush then.”

But he said he supposed the reward still stood - “providing they don’t charge interest!”

Leyland Market put out an appeal and posted a message on the Leyland Memories public Facebook group: “We have had a suggestion that his name is Walt Barnes from MTR possibly from the Chorley/Adlington area, does anyone know any more?”

Leyland has been a thriving market town since the 18th Century. In November 2000 Leyland market moved from Towngate to its new location.

The £300,000 regeneration project to revamp the area around Hough Lane and gateways into the town aimed to celebrate Leyland’s manufacturing heritage and boost trade.

A second phase in the make-over was revealed with the unveiling of the bronze statue of a Leyland Motors worker (pictured) at the newly-installed North Works gates on Hough Lane.

Other elements to the regeneration scheme included the restoration of the Leyland clock on Churchill Way, the siting of a Leyland-built Centurion tank off Flensburg Way and new benches, flower boxes and street lighting in Hough Lane.