The popular bronze figure is back on a new plinth in St Ann ‘s Road, 24 years after she first skipped into Harrow Town Centre. The landmark statue was removed during Harrow Council’s improvement scheme in Station Road .
Council Leader, Cllr Bill Stephenson, was joined by pupils from nearby Norbury School to welcome Katie back on Tuesday, 18th October.
The statue of the skipping girl was first installed by Harrow Council to celebrate the pedestrianisation of St Ann ‘s Road in 1987. The Council invited artists to submit their ideas for a landmark work of art, whittling them down to a shortlist of three.
A committee of councillors, officers and representatives from Harrow Heritage Trust, Harrow Arts Council and Harrow College of Art selected Warwickshire sculptor James Butler MBE.
While there has been much speculation over who the ‘real’ Katie is, the sculptor was in fact inspired watching his own daughter Kate playing in their garden and modelled the figure on her.
She was unveiled on Saturday 2nd May 1987 by then mayor, Christine Bednell – who remains a Harrow ward councillor for Stanmore Park- and the visiting mayor of Douai , Harrow ‘s twin town in France, Jacques Vernier.
The artist also created 20 replica Katies. Ten 12 inch and ten six inch figurines were produced, with some auctioned off by the Harrow Heritage Trust to fund other works of art in the borough.
Mr Butler, now 80, continues sculpting today and will soon unveil his latest piece, a 12 foot memorial statue for the US Army in France . On hearing of Katie’s return to the town centre and her enduring popularity, he said:
“It’s splendid that people have taken a thing like that to their heart. It was always one of my favourite pieces because of the sentimental value with it being based on my oldest daughter Kate.
“She was very excited and flattered that the statue was named after her.
“It was a very enjoyable project from the start, with a gentle and charming subject that hopefully lifts the spirits, so I’m very pleased that people still like it.”
Cllr Bill Stephenson, Leader of Harrow Council, said:
“The town centre just wasn’t the same without Katie so it is great to see her back to lift our spirits.
“She has been a much-loved local landmark for over a quarter of a century. Her arrival celebrated the pedestrianisation of St Ann ‘s Road and her return marks the completion of our works to improve Station Road for traders and shoppers.
“We are now working on exciting plans to revitalise and regenerate the heart of Harrow – Harrow Town Centre, Wealdstone and Station Road – over the next 15 years.
“Whatever happens, Katie will remain a part of the Town Centre’s history for many years to come.”
Source: Harrow Council