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Friday, July 9, 1999 Published at 16:49 GMT 17:49 UK

UK Politics

Pipeless Wilson immortalised in bronze

Tony Blair called Lord Wilson one of the great men of the century

Prime Minister Tony Blair has unveiled a statue to his predecessor Harold Wilson, but the sculpture omits the former Labour leader's most famous trademark - his pipe.

The eight-foot-tall bronze statue shows Lord Wilson, who won four general elections for Labour, without his pipe at the request of his wife Lady Wilson.

The statue of Lord Wilson of Rievaulx, which cost 70,000, stands in St George's Square in his home town of Huddersfield.

[ image: Lady Wilson and Tony Blair admire a political giant]
Lady Wilson and Tony Blair admire a political giant
Paying tribute to the former prime minister, Mr Blair said Lord Wilson had been one of the great men of the 20th century.

"Everybody that knew Harold Wilson testified not just to his intelligence and ability, but also to his humanity, generosity and warmth," he said.

The statue, designed by sculptor Ian Walters, is based on photographs taken in 1964 and depicts Lord Wilson in walking pose at the start of his first term as prime minister.

Revealing why Lord Wilson was portrayed without his pipe, a spokesman for Kirklees Council said it had been done on the advice of Lady Wilson.

"She wanted it to capture the real Harold Wilson, and feared the pipe might make it into a caricature," he said.

'Vigour and spirit'

Lady Wilson and her sons Robin and Giles, and other family members were present at the unveiling ceremony.

Lady Wilson said: "I am delighted that the prime minister has been able to unveil the statue of my husband.

"I am sure that Harold would have been pleased and proud to have been remembered in his native Yorkshire. I think the statue captures his vigour and spirit."

Lord Wilson was born in Huddersfield in 1916. He became Labour leader in 1963, on the death of Hugh Gaitskell, and won the general election the following year.

He lost the 1970 general election but was returned to power in 1974 before finally resigning as prime minister 1976, although he continued as an MP until 1983. He died in 1995.

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