Saturday 13 April 2013 at 2pm was an historic day for Neyland. The bronze statue of Isambard Kingdom Brunel was unveiled down in the Hotel Gardens where its plinth has been conspicuously empty since the theft of the original statue in August 2010.
The Brunel statue was the only one of its kind in Wales and was the last work of Robert Thomas of Barry, Wales’ greatest sculptor. Sadly Robert Thomas died six weeks before the statue was officially unveiled by in July 1999. Mr Thomas was an internationally renowned sculptor who created a number of remarkable ‘free figure statues’ including the one of Aneurin Bevan in Cardiff. He also did a number of busts of Welsh public figures including one of Lord Parry and also George Thomas (the latter can be seen in Cardiff City Hall). Using the original mould the statue has been recast and will be an exact replica of the original which was widely regarded as an iconic piece of public art.
Neyland’s Mayor, Councillor Maureen Molyneux, who was Mayoress at the time of the original unveiling performed the ceremony and expressed her delight at the return of the statue which has been possible by insurance monies obtained by the owners Neyland Town Council.
The Deputy Mayor, Councillor Simon Hancock, a member of the original Brunel memorial Committee said ‘It is a dream come true to see the return of the Brunel statue standing in his rightful place and a sign of restitution to the community from which he was taken.’