Page last updated at 13:35 GMT, Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Home town plans statue of Cobbett

William Cobbett
William Cobbett campaigned for the rights of the rural poor

A charity is hoping to raise 100,000 to erect a life-size statue of social campaigner William Cobbett on horseback near his birthplace in Surrey.

A site for the bronze statue has been prepared in Gostrey Meadow, Farnham, near the William Cobbett pub.

It is to be cast from a model made by sculptor Sheila Mitchell before her death in 2006 at her home in Puttenham.

"Cobbett is a hugely important person in our social history," said former TUC official, Lord Lea of Crondall.

"It is important that such people are remembered as part of our history."

William Cobbett, who was born in 1763, was one of the Industrial Revolution's most committed agitators.

He believed agricultural England was being destroyed as people were forced to move into the cities to make a living.

My wife was very keen to seen this through, having been born in Farnham, and so am I

Painter Charles Bone

He started a newspaper, the Political Register, which was later bought by the Hansard family and became the official record of Parliamentary proceedings.

His articles were also published as a book, Rural Rides, in 1830.

"William Cobbett had the common touch," said Lord Lea, a former Farnham Grammar School student.

"His pamphlets sold 300,000, far more than newspapers, he was one of the best known people in the country at that time.

"There is no statue to him in England and this will be a fitting tribute."

The charity has raised about one quarter of the cost of casting the statue.

Ms Mitchell's widower, painter Charles Bone, said a publisher in America wanted to reprint Rural Rides and donate the profits to the charity.

"All the preliminary work has been done regarding the site and Waverley Borough Council are quite happy with that," he said.

"We have had the maquette (model) on view to the public at various venues in Farnham and there have been no objections to it.

"My wife was very keen to seen this through, having been born in Farnham, and so am I," he said.

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