Burtons’ Forgotten Busts

If you’ve been following vintage Montague Burton news as avidly as we have recently, you will have noticed a recurring story about a series of busts that were reclaimed from the Nottingham branch prior to its destruction in the 1970s. They were by no means artistic masterpieces, just crude sculptures of famous faces from history – mostly empire builders like Cecil Rhodes, David Livingstone and Lord Woolfe – the kind of stuff that teenage boys from the 2os might find inspirational. Back in the 70s the council in their wisdom decided to display these busts as part of a revolting monument behind the bus station.

Montague Burton's Busts

Turner prize?

Unsurprisingly, and almost understandably, this monument was defaced and damaged repeatedly in the intervening years until finally the council came to their senses and decided to knock the whole thing downand start again. Having done this they left the busts lying about outside to get more damaged and then offered them to the civic society, who duly rejected them on account of them being massively damaged. The council then threw most of  them away and put the three they decided were in salvageable condition  into storage. Not long afterwards they were stolen.

Three broken busts - now stolen

These three were considered to be in good enough condition to be preserved. WTF?

I wish I could say that I was the one who stole them, but unfortunately I didn’t. In fact, I would love to meet the criminals that did – just to ask them why, as quite frankly, these busts were considered as total junk by the majority of normal people.  To me, however,  they are a piece of Montague Burton history that is now lost forever. I would have given them a safe home from the start and lovingly incorporated them into some more appropriate stonework. Can you think of anything more appealing than having an officially licensed Montague Burton Ltd bust of Cecil Rhodes watching over you in your own living room? Didn’t think so.

An inspirational bust of then national hero Cecil Rhodes

An inspirational bust of then national hero Cecil Rhodes


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