The Military Army Blog

From Tommy to Tunny: Where to discover creator’s work

Here in the North East we’re lucky to have work by home-grown talent Ray Lonsdale on our doorstep. But as the South Hetton artist prepares to make a piece for his own village depicting a miner thanks to a 26,000 community campaign, we look at where you can see other examples of his work.

From Tommy To Tunny: Where To Discover Creator's Work

Marra, which has pride of place in Horden.

New mining statue to mark community’s colliery past and looks to its future.
Eleven ‘O’ One[1]

Better known as Tommy after locals gave him their own nickname to reflect the general term for British soldiers, the piece was bought by the people of Seaham in 2014 after 85,000 was raised. The structure was first put on show through a loan organised by Seaham Town Council and shows a soldier in the time after World War One came to an end, reflecting the lasting impact it had on the men who fought.

It is on show on the Terrace Green, in the shadow of the town centre’s cenotaph, and has a time capsule buried underneath it containing items gathered together by residents and school children.

From Tommy To Tunny: Where To Discover Creator's Work

Former miners gather at the feet of Marra after he was unveiled to the ex-pit community.

A Line of Reconciliation was set up in the weeks leading up to last November’s Remembrance Day, where people were invited to lay out crosses in memory of those lost through war around the piece and memorial.


The 9ft-tall steel sculpture celebrates Horden s proud mining heritage and is in the village s Welfare Park. It depicts a miner with his heart torn out, to illustrate the ravages on mining communities that happened in the 1980s.

From Tommy To Tunny: Where To Discover Creator's Work

People taking a walk along Scarborough’s North Bay stop to look at Freddie Gilroy, with many taking a seat alongside him as they take a breather and enjoy the view.

Horden Parish Council brought the work to the village in honour of its colliery community. It was named after the term used by pitmen used to refer to their mates after residents were asked what it should be called and given the chance to have a say on where it should be put on show.

Freddie Gilroy and the Belsen Stragglers

The huge piece is now permanently on show on Scarborough’s Royal Albert Drive, looking out to sea across the North Bay.

From Tommy To Tunny: Where To Discover Creator's Work

Ray Lonsdale with Freddie, inspired by a friend from his home village of South Hetton.

It first went on show in 2011 through a loan agreement, but it was loved so much by residents and visitors it was bought by Maureen Robinson for the town. South Hetton brickmaker and Territorial Army member Fred Gilroy was recruited from the village colliery to the Army at the outbreak of the Second World War, serving as a gun aimer in the Royal Artillery before becoming a Regimental Police Officer. Fred became friends with Ray, who was inspired to make an artwork to represent the normal people who were plucked from their ordinary lives to face conflict.


Also bought by Mrs Robinson, the artwork was put into place in July 2013 at Scarborough’s East Pier. The seven-foot long fish sculpture rests on a 12ft tall stand is intended to be a life-size replica of the Blue Thin Tunny, the big brother of the humble tuna fish.

From Tommy To Tunny: Where To Discover Creator's Work

Pull Don’t Push, captured on camera by Brian Bishop in these two shots, recognises the hard work of women who worked to produce timber during war time, as well as the fun they had.

The Blue Thin was a popular sports fish in the 1920s and 1930s when many swam off the Yorkshire Coast, attracted by the herring shoals.

A High Tide in Short Wellies

On show on the coble landing at Filey, just south of Scarborough. It was officially adopted by the town in 2012 at a cost of 50,000 and shows a 12ft angler surveying the raging North Sea waters.

Once again, philanthropic pensioner Mrs Robinson covered the purchase, which was put on show in in Filey, ahead of Scarborough, after campaigning by a councillor for the ward and a Scarborough Council official.

Pull Don t Push

Unveiled on Remembrance Sunday in Dalby Forest, North Yorkshire, in 2013 to commemorate the role of the lumberjills during the Second World War. Ray won a competition set by the Forestry Commission to create a lasting memorial in honour of the role of the women workers and their contribution to the war effort. The Women s Timber Service was set up during the First World War and then in April 1942 the Ministry of Supply launched the Women s Timber Corps in England, part of the Women’s Land Army.

More than 9,000 women were recruited in Britain to fell and crosscut trees by hand as well as work in sawmills, load trucks and drive tractors. The wood was used to make telegraph poles, pit props, packaging boxes for Armyrats © military supplies and weapons, gun butts, canon carriage wheels, Mosquito and Spitfire combat aircraft and in shipbuilding. The charcoal was also used for explosives and in the production of gas masks.

Ray wrote this poem to accompany the work: Yes you re very clever, now stop it and get down.

“We re here to sort this tree out not to mess around.

We need to get a move on and a blade bites when you rush.

“And for the love of God remember to pull and never push.

From Tommy To Tunny: Where To Discover Creator's Work

A High Tide in Short Wellies in Filey.

From Tommy To Tunny: Where To Discover Creator's Work

People take a closer look at A High Tide in Short Wellies.

From Tommy To Tunny: Where To Discover Creator's Work

Tunny, which is installed on Scarborough’s East Pier.

From Tommy To Tunny: Where To Discover Creator's Work

The lumberjills piece in Dalby Forest, which shows two Women’s Land Army members, as well as part of a felled tree.


  1. ^ New mining statue to mark community’s colliery past and looks to its future. (

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