A SEVEN-foot-high sculpture built to honour the Ilkeston Giant has been unveiled in a town cemetery.
The life-size statue of Samuel Taylor, known as the ‘Il’son giant’, who was 7ft 4ins tall, was carved from a tree by Andrew Frost in the Stanton Road cemetery where he is buried.
The Heritage Lottery Fund gave £47,000 towards the sculpture and work to tidy and renovate the cemetery.
President of the Friends group, Ilkeston-born actor Robert Lindsay, and the Il’son Giant’s great granddaughter, Louise Whitelegg, were there to see the changes made with the money and the unveiling of the sculpture.
Mr Lindsay said: “The celebration was a fitting tribute to all those involved in the restoration works that have taken place, safeguarding the future of this historic cemetery and making it a place for all to enjoy now and future generations.”
Esther Collington, secretary of the Friends group, said: “It was a fantastic day and the cemetery looks great now.
“There were lots and lots of people turn up. I lost count of how many we had in but every time I looked up more people had arrived.
“It’s a lovely place to spend time.
“There’s so much history there and then there’s wildlife and at this time of year the flowers look lovely.”
The lottery cash was also used to restore graves, build an all access path, repair the front wall and install new gates, new railings and an information board.
Esther added: “I know that a cemetery might not seem like a place you would want to go and spend time at but it really is lovely.
“It’s such an interesting place, there is a lot of history here and we just want to preserve that and keep the cemetery a nice place for people to visit.”
The Victorian burial ground was in use from 1864 until 1947 and there are 4,737 recorded burials but only 283 monuments.
The majority of people buried at the cemetery are in an unmarked grave but the Friends group does have records of all of them.
Erewash Borough Council worked with the Friends of Stanton Road Cemetery, volunteers and agencies to restore the graveyard.
Anyone interested in joining the Friends of Stanton Road Cemetery can go to www.friendsofstantonroadcemetery.org.uk.