Campaign for Winston Churchill statue in Oldham – 50 years after ex-PM’s death

A campaign is underway to see a statue of Winston Churchill erected in Oldham.

Oldham Councillor Howard Sykes MBE hopes the statue will honour the former war-time Prime Minister and celebrate his ‘very real connection’ with the town.

The Liberal Democrat councillor has written an open letter urging council chiefs to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the political icon, who died on January 24 1965, with a permanent memorial.

Churchill began his career as the Member of Parliament for Oldham and served the constituency from 1900 to 1906.

Mr Sykes told MM: “Winston Churchill was the first elected MP for Oldham so I think I think it’s only right we celebrate his very real connection with our borough.

“There isn’t anything to commemorate him here except for a little blue plaque but as part of our redevelopment plans we will be opening the new Parliament Square, so what better place to erect a statue?

“Given Sir Winston’s historic connection with our town, and the fact that he was awarded the honour of Freeman of the Borough I think most people will connect with it and I don’t think it necessarily has to come out of the public purse.”

The open letter, published on Friday, also suggests the memorial could be placed on the steps of the restored Town Hall where the former Prime Minister first made a speech to the townspeople after his election.

Born into aristocracy in Oxfordshire’s Blenheim Palace, Churchill began his career in Oldham in the summer of 1899 before going on to represent Manchester North West until 1908.

He previously served as British Army officer in the Sudan before entering politics, serving numerous roles including Chancellor, Home Secretary and Minister of Munitions during the First World War.

Churchill led Britain as Prime Minister from 1940-45 and again from 1951-55 and is regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the 20th century.

He remains the only British Prime Minister to win a Nobel Prize in literature and the first to be made an honorary US citizen. 

The political icon was voted Greatest Ever Briton in a 2002 BBC poll and he remains as famous for his V for Victory signs and cigars as he is for his witty remarks and speeches.

Mr Sykes’ open letter to the council concludes: “I have sourced from The Churchill Trust a couple of quotes about Oldham from the great man himself that might feature on the plinth.

“He spoke of “the warm hearts and bright eyes of its people,” and wrote that “No one can come in close contact with the working folk of Lancashire without wishing them well.”

Image courtesy of David Cohen, with thanks.

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