Hawks is depicted standing in his mayoral robes with a scroll in his right hand. The statue surmounts a white stone pedestal, the north face bearing the inscription, the east and west faces bearing the Gateshead coat of arms in relief, surrounded by the motto 'BOROUGH OF GATESHEAD'. There is evidence of an inscription on the lower face of the north base (including 'Newcastle' at its end), but it is completely worn away. The memorial originally had a drinking fountain and cups on each side to a newly patented design, with water supplied by pressing buttons.(1)
A monument to Hawks was proposed by workmen from his Gateshead Ironworks, and a subscription was started. Joseph Craggs was credited with the design and he and Robert were listed as sculptors, though nothing is known of them beyond them working at a marble yard on Percy Street, Newcastle.
The statue was originally sited outside the Town Hall and inaugurated by Right Hon. William Hutt MP in front of a large crowd in which 'every class was well and truly represented'. The speeches concentrated on how the working classes 'under his control' had been most fulsome in their commitment to the memorial. An amusing song was written by a 'young fellow' and set to a popular tune, ending 'May Gyetsed flourish, an then we'll see / Mair Moniments iv Gyetsed'.(6)
A photograph exists of the monument listed in 'Clasper Street and St. Cuthberts developments', though it is unclear where this was exactly.(7) Thus it may have been moved twice since its original unveiling. The statue was removed in early 1999 for badly needed conservation; it will be returned to the same site which is being re-landscaped into a park.
George Hawks (1801-1863) was a leading partner in Hawks, Crawshay and Sons, a long-standing local firm responsible for building the High Level Bridge between Gateshead and Newcastle.(2) He was well known for his honesty and fairness to his workforce: 'Hawks and Hospitality were in him synonymous terms'.(3) However, Hawks was also regarded as a dandy, 'fond of associating with dignitaries, infatuated with civic honours' and was satirised as carefully brushing his clothes after talking to his workers.(4) He was elected Mayor of Gateshead twice and became Deputy Lieutenant of County Durham; his death was greeted with great dismay and widely reported in local newspapers.(5)
Incised letters on north front of pedestal: [...] / FIRST MAYOR OF / GATESHEAD. / BORN JANUARY.7.1801 / DIED OCTOBER.15.1863 / ERECTED BY HIS FRIENDS / AND THE WORKMEN OF THE / GATESHEAD IRON WORKS / OF WHICH HE WAS THE / FIFTH SENIOR PARTNER / OF THE SAME NAME / AND FAMILY. / OCTOBER 2ND 1865.
PMSA recording information