Belle looks swell – and this time she's back for good!

SCARBOROUGH'S Bathing Belle has returned home to take a leisurely dip in the water ahead of the summer season.

The sculpture, the second of two pieces of public art commissioned by Scarborough Civic Society in 2002, was first unveiled three weeks ago, by mayor Janet Jefferson.

However, blacksmith artist Craig Knowles had not quite completed his work of art and, after making a day trip to the town, the Bathing Belle returned to the workshop were she was created so a coat of lacquer could be applied before she could become a permanent feature in the town centre.

The Bathing Belle represents Scarborough at the start of its popularity as a spa town and the UK’s first sea bathing resort, while The Diving Belle, installed on Vincent Pier last year, represents Scarborough in the 21st Century, moving confidently into the future.

Barbara Foster, chairman of Scarborough Civic Society’s public arts committee said: “It’s wonderful to see the second of our sculptures finally installed and the completion of this public arts project. The civic society has now formally made these works of art a gift to the town and we will take care of their maintenance for the next five years.

“Members of the society have also decided to have two plaques made explaining the link between the latest sculpture and the Diving Belle which was installed on the Lighthouse Pier last year.

“The Scarborough Belles are the result of a lot of hard work by many people and we’re very grateful to all those who have been involved in helping us to achieve our ambitions. I hope this will be just the start of a debate about public art in the town. I know Scarborough Council is producing a public arts policy document and the society is looking forward to making a contribution to it.”

Following the statues installation, a mystery well-wisher placed a garland of flowers around the Bathing Belle’s neck.

“I thought it was a lovely gesture,” said Mrs Foster. It seemed to say ‘Welcome to the town’,” she added.

The statues cost about 40,000 with money raised through private subscription, donations from business and grants from the Arts Council for England, Yorkshire Forward and Scarborough Council.

Other major donors to the project were Jonathan Allison, a former planning officer with Scarborough Council and the Overfield Trust, set up in memory of a former borough council engineer.