Portfolio > Special Feature Galleries > Tommy Statue, Seaham Harbour, UK (Part 1) Click on an image below to reveal enlarged version
Tommy Statue, Seaham Harbour, County Durham, UK
Tommy is a statue of a First World War soldier by artist Ray Lonsdale, displayed close to Seaham war memorial, on Terrace Green by the seafront in Seaham, County Durham, in North East England. The corten steel statue weighs 1.2 tonnes (1.2 long tons; 1.3 short tons) and is 9 feet 5 inches (2.87 m) tall, with a rusty red patina. It depicts a First World War soldier, wearing boots, puttees, greatcoat and tin hat, sitting on an ammunition box, with downcast eyes, holding the barrel of his grounded rifle in his right hand. It is officially named 1101 (or Eleven-O-One), referring to the first minute of peace as the armistice came into force at 11am on 11 November 1918, but is more popularly known as Tommy, referring to the archetype private soldier Tommy Atkins. It was displayed temporarily in Seaham from May 2014, but became a permanent fixture after a committee of local residents raised £102,000 needed to buy it. The price was handed over on 4 August 2014, the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. The statue was relocated onto a paved platform in 2015, under which was buried a time capsule containing donated items, including a letter from Ray Lonsdale, a T-shirt, children's artworks, war remembrances, and a Victory Medal. The word Tommy can also refer to any other statue representing a First World War soldier, usually made of bronze, steel or concrete.
Each year, on Remembrance Day, local volunteers create a poppy tribute next to the statue, to commemorate all those who served their country in wars. Some of those poppy tributes are shown above. It all began in 2016 and continues today. Spearheading the tributes are ex-servicemen David McKenna and Philip Ridley, who also enlist the help of local school children, who help to arrange the display every year. Stones and pebbles are collected from Seaham Beach and then placed next to Tommy, along with sea shells and also plastic bottles, which resemble poppies. Big respect to all those who made it happen!!
I had an idea floating around for a while, before I eventually put it into practice. I bought a box of battery powered tea lights and placed them next to Tommy, way back in August, 2016. I named the shot 'Candlelit Vigil' for obvious reasons and the response to it was mind blowing. I uploaded the shot to a Facebook Page (Sunderland In Pictures) and it received over 14 thousand likes and 11,0000 shares!!! On the back of this exposure, I received a lot of requests for photo prints and canvases, which was even more satisfying. It was also very flattering to see so many people replicating my idea, as countless tea light photo's appeared shortly after mine and also during the following Remembrance Day tributes. It certainly was one of my better ideas!
Seaham Tommy 1101: Town raises funds to buy sculpture, BBC News, 26 July 2014
Sculptor Ray Lonsdale reveals the story behind the Tommy statue at Seaham, The Journal, 4 July 2014
First World War hero Tommy is at Seaham to stay, Sunderland Echo, 27 May 2015