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Spalding's new statue reflects agricultural heritage when farmers said: "You're hired".

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A new sculpture commemorating the May Hiring Fair for farmworkers and domestics was unveiled in Spalding’s Hall Place yesterday.

Local author and farmer Rex Sly, already immortalised in the Market Art Trail, unveiled the cast bronze statue created by Laury Dizengremel for Spalding and District Civic Society and Transported Arts.

Rex told the assembled crowd: “I think this is a reminder to present generations and future generations it was the agricultural industry and horticultural industry that really built Spalding and made it the fine town that it is.”

Farmer and local author Rex Sly (front) unveiled the statue. (060519-15)
Farmer and local author Rex Sly (front) unveiled the statue. (060519-15)

The Hiring, standing about one-metre high, shows a farmer hiring a young shepherd.

Until about 100 years ago, farmworkers and domestics would pour into town to find work for the coming year.

In 1907, a paragraph in the then Spalding Free Press, was headed May Hiring and detailed “ploughboys £5 to £8, horsemen £8 to £10, housemaids £10 to £15, plain cooks £16 to £18”.

Civic society president John Charlesworth, who says the hiring fairs did not long survive the 1914-18 war, spoke of the next steps in the art project to reflect on Spalding’s heritage - and these will include commemorating the sheep, cattle and pig markets.

The Market Art Trail is made up of tiny sculptures dotted around town and these feature miniature versions of people well known in the community today.

As with The Hiring, the trail was made possible through the society’s partnership with Transported.

Rex Sly’s sculpture is set into a wall at Bookmark and sees him leaning against a tractor wheel while reading a book.

Rex Sly with the new statue, The Hiring. (060519-6)
Rex Sly with the new statue, The Hiring. (060519-6)

The miniatures were created by Joseph Hillier, who has since gone to the other extreme by creating the UK’s largest ever cast bronze, Messenger, for the Theatre Royal Plymouth.

Laury Dizengremel is also a renowned sculptor, whose life-size statue of landscaper Capability Brown stands on the Thames Walk in London.

Yesterday Transported programme director Nick Jones thanked the civic society’s David Jones and John Charlesworth for initiating the project.

John Charlesworth said he and John Honnor had the privilege of watching The Hiring take shape from clay to the finished statue.

He said he had continually been impressed b Laury’s energy and zest, adding: “In fact I came to be rather in awe of her.”

County and district councillor Liz Sneath, attending as heritage champion, said: “I am really proud to be involved and congratulate the civic society on their great success.”

Spalding Folk Club provided live music for the unveiling.

Previously ...

History springs to life in Spalding's Hall Place

Spalding's small sculptures have inspired a record-breaker

Bronze ‘handshake’ statue to celebrate Spalding’s 19th century hiring fairs

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