Freddie Gilroy & the Belsen Stragglers

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Freddie Gilroy & the Belsen Stragglers

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Back in the summer we visited Scarborough as part of a birthday celebration. It has been many years since we visited the area so there were lots of new things to explore, particularly around North Beach where we stayed and which we don’t remember ever visiting before.

A quieter side of the town, North Beach is also the home to a giant steel sculpture called Freddie Gilroy & the Belsen Stragglers. The sculpture by Ray Lonsdale celebrates Freddie Gilroy, a former miner, who, as a young man, was one of the first Allied troops to enter Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp where they discovered 60,000 prisoners, most of whom were seriously ill, along with thousands of unburied bodies.

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The sculpture represents everyday people who are pulled out of their ordinary lives because of war, and in doing so who experience extraordinary things which impact on their lives in a profound way.

 Although Freddie was originally from County Durham, the sculpture became a permanent fixture in Scarborough after it was on display there for a short period. A local pensioner donated money to keep the sculpture in the town and it has been a permanent feature ever since.

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The sculpture is incredible for its size, how it uses the material and for the emotion of both the story and the character within the sculpture itself. It is something that is well worth a visit if you are ever in the area as only being near it can really communicate the sense of scale and emotion of the piece.

Ray Lonsdale also has another giant sculpture in nearby Filey called High Tide in Short Wellies. Also made from steel the sculpture is inspired by the decline in the fishing industry, a traditional source of income for the local area. 

There is also another steel structure built by Lonsdale in his home town of County Durham titled Eleven O One.

Find out more about the work of Ray Lonsdale

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