A cardboard box locked away in a store cupboard has revealed an eerie premonition of the attack on the Eric Morecambe statue.
This box contains prototype models of the statue rejected by its sculptor Graham Ibbeson almost two decades ago.
Graham gave these original maquettes to The Visitor for safekeeping during the 1990s.
He then put them to the back of his mind, until we stumbled across them before we moved offices earlier this year.
Recently we reunited Graham with his original work, more than 15 years after the statue was unveiled.
The Yorkshireman couldn’t believe his eyes as he picked up the first miniature model he ever made of Eric.
The standing foot was broken, snapped away from the base.
It looked just like the real statue after it was attacked by a hacksaw in October and removed for repairs.
“That’s really weird and kind of prophetic,” said Graham.
“I don’t know how it got broken. What a mystery.”
Graham made this maquette soon after he was approached by Lancaster City Council for the job of sculpting the statue in late 1992. It depicts the comedian in a buttoned-up double breasted jacket.
As Eric statue fans will know, the finished version wears an open jacket with binoculars around his neck, and plus-four trousers.
Graham also posed for photos with a large unbronzed head of Eric he’d created during the sculpting process.
But he seemed almost embarrassed at the sight of the comic’s smiling face, spotting mistakes in the features only a perfectionist artist would see.
“He looks too much like a waxwork,” he said.
“I didn’t want him to be an exact copy and look exactly like Eric, I wanted him to be MY Eric.”
Graham was told that had he showed his originals to the council, he wouldn’t have been given the job, and the course of Morecambe history would have been very different.
Instead he created the Eric Morecambe statue we know and love, and that will soon return to its rightful spot on the Promenade on Thursday, December 11.
*A brand new tourist attraction paying tribute to both Morecambe AND Wise is being planned for Morecambe. The Visitor are the first patrons of a project to raise £50,000 for a life-size bronze plaque of the beloved TV comedy duo created by Graham Ibbeson, the man who sculpted the Eric statue. The team behind the plans are seeking out local businesses who want to become patrons of the project. Anyone interested in finding out more should contact project co-ordinator Jim Cadman at firstname.lastname@example.org