New Bathing Belle statue has a quick dip in Scarborough - but then heads home

SCARBOROUGH'S Bathing Belle dipped her toe into the water for the first time – before running back to the warmth of the workshop.

The sculpture, the second of two pieces of public art commissioned by Scarborough Civic Society in 2002, was unveiled outside Woolworths by Mayor Janet Jefferson yesterday, helped by children from Friarage School.

However, blacksmith artist Craig Knowles has not quite completed his work of art and, after making a day trip to the town, the Bathing Belle will return to her Sunderland home before making Scarborough her permanent place of residence in two weeks' time.

Adrian Perry, chairman of Scarborough Civic Society, said: "Unfortunately Craig needs a little more time to complete his work. A coat of lacquer needs to be applied to the Bathing Belle before she can become a permanent feature in our town centre."

Another member of the society, John Steel, of Westwood, added: "It's a wonderful piece of art which I'm sure will be appreciated by visitors and residents alike."

The Bathing Belle represents Scarborough at the start of her 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.

Mr Perry said: "It's fantastic to see the second of our sculptures in place even if it's got to go back for a couple of weeks. 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."

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.

The Belles will be maintained by the society for five years and then the council will take care of them.