A controversial £300,000 statue of Margaret Thatcher, approved by councillors despite threats of vandalism, has finally been installed on its stone plinth in Grantham town centre.
The massive memorial to the iron lady was installed on Sunday morning, May 15.
South Kesteven District Council had previously been coy to confirm details of the installation of the sculpture created by Douglas Jennings due to animosity and threats of damage.
Leader of South Kesteven District Council, Conservative Councillor Kelham Cooke, said: “This memorial statue of the late Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven will be a fitting tribute to a truly unique political figure.
“Margaret Thatcher will always be a significant part of Grantham’s heritage. She and her family have close ties with Grantham. She was born, raised and went to school here.
“It is, therefore, appropriate that she is commemorated by her home town, and that the debate that surrounds her legacy takes place here in Grantham.
“We must never hide from our history, and this memorial will be a talking point for generations to come.
“We hope that this memorial will encourage others to visit Grantham and to see where she lived and visit the exhibition of her life in Grantham Museum.
“This is about inspiring, educating and informing people about someone who represents a significant part of Grantham’s heritage.”
Baroness Thatcher was the UK’s first female Prime Minister.
Margaret Thatcher (nee Roberts) was born and raised in Grantham and attended Kesteven and Grantham Girls’ School, before gaining a scholarship to study at Oxford University.
Her father Alfred, a grocer, was town mayor from 1945 to 1946.
Sources close to SKDC told the LDR service there are plans to hold a big ceremony in the last week of May to unveil the town’s new feature – though this has still not been confirmed by the council.
Preparatory measures including anti-graffiti protection, were carried out just weeks ago.
The bronze memorial to the Iron Lady was originally passed in February 2019 despite reports acknowledging it “would be a likely target for politically motivated vandals.”.
It is 10foot tall and sits on an equally high 10foot plinth – towering over St Peter’s Hill Green at 20ft tall overall.
It was brought to the town by Grantham Museum, SKDC and a Public Memorials Appeal.
Graham Jeal, of the Grantham Community Heritage Association said: “There has long been a conversation in Grantham about a more permanent memorial to the country’s first female Prime Minister who was an enormous political figure, both nationally and internationally.
“The delivery of the memorial has secured the museum for the next few years and has helped the museum finances survive the Covid pandemic.
“It is recognised that the full spectrum of views exist in Grantham about the legacy of Margaret Thatcher and an exhibition inside the museum illustrates this.”
Opponents to the plans have been loudly vocal about the damage some of Mrs Thatcher’s policies did to miners, the country’s energy supplies, LGBT rights and AIDs treatment.
However, supporters believe the first female Prime Minister, born and raised in Grantham, should be paid tribute for her successes and for putting the town on the map.
Plans to erect the statue in Parliament Square had previously been rejected by Westminster Council.
The build was delayed following the installation of the plinth in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
A planned unveiling event itself became a source of controversy after it emerged that the council was proposing to underwrite the estimated £100,000 the ceremony would cost with taxpayer money, taken from the authority’s reserves.
That decision, which drew anger from local residents and saw opposition councillors describe it as ‘nothing more than a party,’ was reversed at a council meeting in March 2021.