Why Stan Laurel statue is getting 'plastic surgery' in a North East park

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A much-loved statue of comedy legend Stan Laurel has undergone extensive restoration work after vandalism and cruel weather left it in a sorry state.

The comic actor, famous for his classic films with Oliver Hardy, is remembered in a park near his home of several years.

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Years of exposure to the elements and acts of vandalism left it requiring extensive work. Specialist repair firm Plastic Surgeon, however, has stepped in to restore the statue.

Mark Johnson, operations manager for the North East at Plastic Surgeon, said: “Inevitably, when something is exposed to the elements for almost 30 years, wear and tear will occur.

"The statue of Stan Laurel was certainly in need of some attention, and, thanks to our specialist skills, we were called in to rectify the damage.”

Erected in 1989 in Laurel Park, Dockwray Square, North Shields, the statue (and the park name) marks the fact that Stan Laurel lived in the square at number 8 for five years as a child, from 1897 to 1902.

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In the intervening years between its unveiling and now, natural wear and tear caused by the elements, as well as the odd act of vandalism had seen the statue looking the worse for wear. Plastic Surgeon was called in to use its specialist surface repair skills.

The job at hand was far from straightforward. Prior to the repair, the statue had a black and green colouring, which initially led the team to suspect it was made from painted fibreglass. However, upon closer inspection, it became apparent that it had originally been given a bronze finish, which would need restoring to its former glory.

In order to give the work privacy, a scaffold and tarpaulin was erected around the statue so that the work could be carried out undisturbed.

Mark said: “The repair was a difficult one. Not only did we have to use resin repairs to the body of the statue, we also had to use bronze powder to provide the right finish. Given the nature of it, we also wanted to keep the ongoing repairs hidden so that their effect would be all the more impressive once completed.”

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In addition to the statue itself, the firm also restored a stone plaque of Laurel and his comedy partner Hardy that’s situated on the front of the plinth and had really suffered at the hands of vandals over the years.

Mark commented: “The plaque alone took a full day to complete, with one of our technicians having to use screws and wiring to rebuild the brim of their hats. He did a brilliant job though and it’s really done it justice.”

Mark Johnson concluded: “The finished repair work looks fantastic. Our team put a lot of effort into it, with it becoming more of a labour of love than a job by the end. We can take great satisfaction from the fact that the repair has worked out so well and Stan is back to his bronzed best. The finish is almost unrecognisable from when we started.”

For more information, please visit www.plastic-surgeon.co.uk

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