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Page last updated at 13:23 GMT, Friday, 24 September 2010 14:23 UK
Giles's cartoon grandma statue returns to Ipswich
By Andrew Woodger
BBC Suffolk

Giles's Grandma statue, Ipswich
"I've never worked out whether Grandma is grinning or grimacing"

One of Ipswich's most famous ladies has a new plinth to rest on.

The Grandma statue, based on the character in Carl Giles's cartoons from the Daily Express, is now atop a granite slab in the town centre.

It is part of £650,000 of refurbishments in the Giles Circus area outside the Corn Exchange.

The statue is positioned so that Grandma is looking up at the office window where Giles used to work - above what is now a coffee shop.

Ronald 'Carl' Giles started work for Express Group Newspapers during the war and continued to do so until 1992.

"The most famous of all the Giles characters was Grandma and she was a sort of Machiavellian figure - gambling, drinking, trying to get the most money she could out of the grandchildren," said John Field, a Giles enthusiast from Ipswich.

John Field
John Field has compiled several books of Giles's cartoons

The Giles annuals were compilations of each year's newspaper cartoons, and John Field continues to compile annuals for the Christmas market.

He's got a personal collection of all the annuals from 1945 and estimates pristine copies of the oldest ones are worth up to £1000.

Although not born in Ipswich, Giles worked there all his adult life.

"He had to think up a basis on which to put his cartoons and he dreamt up the 'Giles Family', which I believe to be a family based in Ipswich with grandchildren, dogs and the rest of it.

"Grandma was always greatly loved. There was a kind side to her, but she was a bit of an anomaly - there was a dark side to her character.

"She was a great royalist, but at the same time she went to Heathrow when Kruschchev [USSR leader 1955-64] arrived to visit Britain.

"Giles's politics were left rather than right. When Lord Beaverbrook persuaded him to join the Express Group during the war, Giles made it very clear that his politics would not change.

"Grandma is based on a variety of people, but in terms of her actual face, it's very much based on Giles himself. I've got a cartoon he did privately that indicates that very much being the case."

Carl Giles, cartoonist
Giles is believed to have been nicknamed 'Carl' after Boris Karloff

Statue crosses the road

The statue was originally unveiled in 1993 by actor Warren Mitchell.

In February 2010, it was removed as £650,000 of work began re-landscaping the roads and pavements.

About a third of the cost has been met by Ipswich Borough Council with the rest coming from the Haven Gateway Partnership.

"The new-look Giles Circus will transform the whole town centre and give a much more people-friendly atmosphere," said Councillor Tanya de Hoedt.

"I would like to thank shoppers, businesses and visitors for their patience during this major engineering project but hope they will see the benefits when 'Granny' is again in pride of place."

The positioning of the statue is deliberate.

"It's very important that Grandma is looking up at the window of Giles's studio on the second floor," said John Field.

"That wasn't his only studio in Ipswich, but that was the one he was at for the longest length of time.

"I've never worked out whether Grandma is grinning at that window or grimacing.

"As an Ipswich boy, it was always exciting to see a building of Ipswich within the cartoon.

"One could eventually produce a book which includes 120-plus cartoons featuring Ipswich and Suffolk locations."

The Carl Giles Trust Collection is held by the University of Kent on behalf of Express Group Newspapers. It contains around 6,500 original artworks for cartoons which you can look at online.

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