HEADLESS victorian statues of Robert Burns and Mary Campbell will be restored just in time for Burns Day at the end of the month.
The 7ft couple have been headless for more than 30 years but will be given a new lease of life after a nine-month restoration project is completed.
The couple have also been missing five of their limbs since they were vandalised in the 1970’s but an Edinburgh based sculpture conservationist has spent the last nine months restoring them back to their former glory.
“It’s an amazing job and we are vey lucky and feel very privileged to be doing it,” saidLeithbased sculpture conservationist Graciela Ainsworth, who worked on the three tonne marble statue with a specialist team of staff.
The statue was sculpted by Victorian artist Hamilton C MacCarthy around 1888 and was given to Bathgate Town Council in the early 1950’s as a present.
It stood in the town’s Kirkton Park until it vandalised in the 1970’s and has been sitting in storage ever since.
One of Burn’s legs and an arm were missing, as well as both of Mary’s legs and one of her arms, and their heads.
Ms Ainsworth will be putting the finishing touches to the statues over the next two weeks, and will fix both heads to the respective bodies.
The restored statue will be unveiled in the garden of the Bathgate Partnership Centre, Lindsay House, on Burns night, later this month.
The lenghthy project has cost around £50,000, and was funded by Bathgate Historic Conservation Society.
Ms Ainsworth, 51, carried out the restoration at her workshop inLeith, referring to an old photograph of the statue before it was vandalised.
She said: “We found a lovely little thistle carved at the back of Burn’s foot, the original drill marks from when Hamilton C MacCarthy carved it using the pointing machine.
“We also found there had once been a turntable and on one of the base sections directly underneath the statues there are four holes for handles, so it would have been able to move round like The Three Graces at the National Gallery.”
As part of the repair work, Ms Ainsworth has given talks, demonstrations and workshops.
The majority of funding for the repairs was provided by Maple Oak PLC, while West Lothian Council contributed around £15,000.
Joe Welse, 78, a member of Bathgate Historic Conservation Society, said: “We have been to the workshop a couple of times to view the work in progress and we are very impressed with it.
“At one point, about 12 months or so ago, we were very down because we were getting nowhere with the fundraising, so it feels grand to now have the statue restored.”
The society intends to press Historic Scotland to consider having the restored statue recognised as a listed property, believing it will be worth almost £1 million.