Edward Bainbridge Copnall’s ‘Family Group’ was unveiled by the Queen on October 19th 1967 while she was opening Billingham Forum. It’s long been one of my favourites, with its heroic and idealised depiction of the family reminding me of the socialist realist statues I used to research in Budapest. Billingham’s growth and the development of its leisure facilities saw it touted as an ideal town for young working families, most of whom had links to the ICI chemical plant nearby.
Made from fibreglass on a granite pedestal, the work was commissioned by Billingham Council.
Matthew Jones at Stockton Borough Libraries sent over these fantastic photographs of the sculpture from the Head Wrightson company magazine (1969).
Like Brian Wall’s ‘Always Advancing‘ (A.K.A.’The Spider’) in Thornaby or John Hoskin’s ‘Resurgence’ in Darlington, the sculpture was commissioned to embody the hoped-for rebirth of the town. Industrial decline and its resultant unemployment has thrown this optimism into new light in recent years.
Thank you to AJ Garrett for the main photograph.
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