Marshal Keith statue only 113th on council's maintenance priority list

Field Marshal James Francis Edward Keith stands proudly overlooking the towns Broad Street
Field Marshal James Francis Edward Keith stands proudly overlooking the towns Broad Street

An iconic statue of a Peterhead-born Prussian Army hero lies a lowly 113th on the list of priorities for council maintenance, it was revealed this week.

Field Marshal James Francis Edward Keith stands proudly overlooking the town’s Broad Street.

The statue - a replica of a monument created by the artist Taesart in 1789 - was gifted to the town by William I, King of Prussia, in recognition of Keith’s loyalty to the Prussian Army under Frederick the Great.

Keith died during the Seven Years War at the Battle of Hochkirk.

But time, pollution and vandalism of his statue has again prompted calls for the statue to be repaired and maintained.

During a review of the Historic Asset Management Project, Aberdeenshire Council's Buchan Area Committee heard that other projects were taking priority, writes the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

To-date, HAMP has an allocated budget of just £200,000 per year to maintain and repair more than 500 non-operational historic assets under the council's ownership.

Project officer Frances Swanston told councillors that all assets were first surveyed between 2014 and 2016 with their repair needs prioritised on health and safety criteria and that HAMP is continuing to work through the prioritised list.

This year, the only works being undertaken in Buchan will be emergency repairs to Strichen Parish Church, while next year repairs will be undertaken at the St Fergus Mort House.

Peterhead councillor Dianne Beagrie asked for the statue of Marshal Keith to be added to the list and was informed that he was - but was only the 113th priority.

The project officer advised the committee, however, that if a "spruce-up" was required then that could be looked into.

Several years ago, former local councillor and dedicated Keith family historian Sam Coull demanded urgent repair work for the statue.

Having seen the impressive efforts of the German authorities to preserve the original monument, Mr Coull believed it was vital we did the same on our shores.

He said at the time: "This was a gift from Prussia in honour of a great Buchan man - it is a great shame it is being allowed to fall into such disrepair.”

The statue - made of stamped sheet zinc - is missing the spurs of Marshal Keith, while the granite plinth upon which he stands has been chipped, with both the statue and the plinth requiring specialists treatment.