Iconic sculpture removed from pub

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An iconic sculpture has been removed from its ‘home’ outside a town centre pub.

The sculpture - a wooden bear which has stood above the entrance to The Bear pub in Market Square, Horsham, for decades - has been taken away to undergo restoration work.

Lee Rendell and Darren Richmond SUS-171221-142437001

Lee Rendell and Darren Richmond SUS-171221-142437001

It is only the second time in living memory that the bear has ‘disappeared.’ The first was after it was knocked off its perch above the doorway by a passing lorry when traffic was still able to drive around and through Market Square in the 1970s and 80s.

Pub landlord Darren Richmond said that it was discovered last summer that bees were nesting in the wooden sculpture and contractors for pub owners Hall and Woodhouse later discovered the historic bear had dry rot. “They were surprised it hadn’t blown off in the wind.”

Restoration is expected to take some weeks. Assistant manager at the pub Lee Rendell explained: “The restorers are planning to air dry it. Normally, they would kiln dry it, but is so fragile. Its ears have rotted away.”

He said the sculpture was built from four panels of wood and that the restorers had discovered many layers of paint on it, including what appears to be gold leaf.

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Now he is appealing for anyone who has any old photos of the bear to come forward so that the much-loved landmark can be accurately restored to its former glory.

Sean Malia, whose dad Bill was a former landlord at The Bear, said that the wooden figure had been hit by vehicles on more than one occasion while they were at the pub; “It happened two or three times while we had it.

“It was quite a specialist job to repair it. The last time it came down they said it might not survive another. Thankfully they saved it.”

Now restorers Ambridge Signs are doing their best to save it again.

The Bear sculpture being placed back on its plinth after repairs following an accident in the 1980s

The Bear sculpture being placed back on its plinth after repairs following an accident in the 1980s

Former Bear landlord Bill Malia with the sculpture damaged in a lorry crash

Former Bear landlord Bill Malia with the sculpture damaged in a lorry crash