As nose jobs go, it isn’t one to be sniffed at.
Repairing the weather-beaten features of Sir Robert Peel’s statue could prove a ticklish task in the £1.2 restoration of Preston’s Winckley Square.
The last attempt to give the former Prime Minister a new hooter left him with no bottom lip and a cheap stick-on snout.
Now a professional sculptor is being brought in to do a proper job, although the exact cost of the operation is being kept a closely-guarded secret.
“Sadly Sir Robert’s current nose doesn’t look too clever,” said landscape artist Ste Allan.
“It was a previous repair and it wasn’t done too well. We’re not sure what it is made of. But it doesn’t match the rest of his face and so it will have to come off and be replaced.”
So how did 164-year-old Sir Robert come to lose his original nose?
“It’s a mystery,” added Ste. “We’ve got an old photo where a nearby tree had fallen down in the park, but it wasn’t that close to the statue.
“It’s more likely that it dropped off due to weather damage. The nose is a very vulnerable bit and we think the weather got to it, moisture got behind it and it fractured off.”
Experts will take a full cast of Sir Robert’s head and a sculptor will make a new nose and top lip in the same type of limestone. It will then be fixed in place using stainless steel pins.
To make sure it looks authentic, the sculptor will use old images and etchings of the politician and statesman to get an accurate likeness.
Part of the plynth that the statue stands on will also be repaired. And the whole memorial will get a pressure clean to take away more than 150 years of weather and vegetation staining.
“It still won’t look freshly chiselled because some of the staining is deep,” added Ste Allan. “But he will be much cleaner and fresher looking - almost back to his best.”
Sir Robert was born in the Bury area, but was loved by the people of Preston because he was instrumental in getting the Corn Laws repealed, which meant the price of food dropped.
The statue was built by public subscription and Preston Council donated the patch of land on which it stands. It was created by local sculptor Thomas Duckett Snr and unveiled in 1852.
The £1.2m restoration of the Winckley Square Gardens is being funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Big Lottery Fund, Preston BID and Preston City Council.