When Maureen Robinson first glimpsed the striking statue of Freddie Gilroy gazing out across the North Bay, she was determined to make sure it remained in Scarborough.
Now, following the installation of her third gift for the town, the generous pensioner has revealed plans to buy a whole collection of sculptures in the hope of forming a heritage trail.
Mrs Robinson, of Malvern Crescent, hopes to commission north east artist Ray Lonsdale to create up to another five statues, which will be installed in various key locations around the resort.
She said: “What I’m hoping to do is a short trail of sculptures that is symbolic of Scarborough’s heritage.
“The idea has been inspired by the reaction to Freddie Gilroy as it has brought such a lot of comment. “The aim is to represent Scarborough’s heritage through a small series of sculptures people can relate to and I hope it will bring in tourists from far and wide.
“I shall probably create a walk linking them together.”
The announcement comes after a third sculpure was unveiled in Merchant’s Row last Thursday.
The corten steel statue of a life-size smuggler and his apprentice overlooks the South Bay and is intended to reflect part of the town’s maritime history.
Mrs Robinson said: “From being a child I used to go to Flamborough and was fascinated by the smugglers’ cove.
“I have researched the history of smuggling since then, especially what went on in Robin Hood’s Bay and the old parts of Scarborough. I wanted to try and capture some of that heritage.
“The sculpture is just as I imagined. I’m sure the children will enjoy it and interact with it. The view overlooking the harbour is perfect, it couldn’t be in a better position.”
Mr Lonsdale, who created the statue, said it was a relief to finally see it in place.
“There was all the anticipation beforehand of what could go wrong putting it in. It’s always nice to see something that’s got a bit of history, with different clothes and a different look, as you can put a bit of character into it,” he said. He added that the string of Scarborough commissions had thrown his work into the spotlight and revealed he was currently carrying out work for Middlesbrough Council.
“When Maureen bought Freddie, that was a surprise in itself but when she bought the fisherman it was amazing. This one was very welcome and it has been nice to do,” he said.
Mrs Robinson said she hoped the smuggler statue would be the first of the heritage sculptures.
And on Tuesday Scarborough Council agreed to accept her fourth gift for the borough - a giant stainless steel tunny fish - which is being planned as the second statue in the trail.
The sculpture, which will need to be approved by planners before it is installed, will be 8ft from nose to tail, with a 14ft frame, made of marine grade stainless steel.
Again it will be created by Mr Lonsdale and will possibly be located in North Wharf, close to the West Pier.
Mrs Robinson, who chose the tunny after she remembered seeing the fish on display in Scarborough Harbour in the 1940s, said: “It will be seen by a lot of visitors, as it will be very tall.
Durham-based Mr Lonsdale said the statue, which commemorates the town’s tunny fishing industry, was “booked in” and he hoped it would be in place by Christmas.
Cllr David Chance, cabinet member for tourism and culture, said: “Maureen’s generosity continues to take our breath away and on behalf of people in Scarborough and the wider borough, I would like to thank her for her generous offer of another statue.”
The sculptures follow in the footsteps of Ray Lonsdale’s ‘Freddie Gilroy and the Belsen Stragglers’, in Marine Drive, and the 12ft fisherman statue in Filey, which is entitled ‘A High Tide In Short Wellies’.
‘Freddie’ is based on a retired miner who was one of the first soldiers to liberate the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany at the end of World War Two, while the Filey fisherman was designed as a statement about the decline of the fishing industry.
Mrs Robinson purchased both at a combined cost of around £100,000. However she has not disclosed the price of the smuggler statue.
The philanthropist, who has written weekly features for the Scarborough News for more than 30 years, said: “I’ve been saving up everything I have been paid from my columns and from all the booklets I have sold to tourists. I’ve combined all the money and decided to make the heritage trail my new project.”
Councillors have welcomed the proposal and invited Mrs Robinson to come and discuss the plans in more detail, before possibly involving the community.
Cllr Chance said: “I’m looking forward to council officers having a meeting with her to discuss what we could do to help plan for and meet those aspirations.”