Egg thrown at Margaret Thatcher statue less than two hours after being erected

An egg was thrown at a statue of Margaret Thatcher less than two hours after it was erected in her hometown.

Work began at 6am to install the controversial statue on to a plinth in Grantham, Lincolnshire, but police were called an hour after workmen left the site when a passer by threw an egg.

It landed at the front of the statue near the hem of Ms Thatcher’s skirt.

The leader of South Kesteven District Council, Cllr Kelham Cooke, said he recognised Ms Thatcher was a "divisive figure" but it was important to mark that she was the first female prime minister.

“She was born and raised here and yes, there is cctv and we will do all we can to protect it from vandalism. But we hope it will become a talking point in the town,” he said.

The egg landed at the front of the statue near the hem of Ms Thatcher’s skirt. Credit: PA

"We hope that this memorial will encourage others to visit Grantham and to see where she lived and visit the exhibition of her life in Grantham Museum."

In February 2019, a planning committee unanimously voted in favour of the £300,000 statue – which was originally intended for Parliament Square in Westminster.

After a large-scale £100,000 unveiling ceremony was approved by the council in 2020, a Facebook group proposing an “egg-throwing contest” at the event attracted interest from more than 13,000 people.

Around 2,400 others visited the Facebook page to say they would go to the event including “egg throwing … and potentially graffiti art”.

A CCTV camera had been installed directly opposite the memorial to attempt to combat any threats of vandalism, the council said.

The memorial will stand on a granite plinth in the heart of the Civic Quarter near statues of two famous sons of the town - Sir Isaac Newton, one of the world's greatest scientists, and 19th century politician the Hon Frederick James Tollemache.

Credit: PA

It will be officially unveiled by the Public Memorials Ap/peal (PMA), which funded the monument through public donations, at a later date.

The Grantham Community Heritage Association (GCHA), the educational charity which manages Grantham Museum, raised money for a permanent memorial over a number of years – part of which went towards the memorial and part towards the educational work of the charity.

Graham Jeal, of the GCHA, said: “There has long been a conversation in Grantham about a more permanent memorial to the country’s first female Prime Minister who was an enormous political figure, both nationally and internationally.

The delivery of the memorial has secured the museum for the next few years and has helped the museum finances survive the Covid pandemic. It is recognised that the full spectrum of views exist in Grantham about the legacy of Margaret Thatcher and an exhibition inside the museum illustrates this.”

Cllr Cooke, said: “This memorial statue of the late Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven will be a fitting tribute to a truly unique political figure. Margaret Thatcher will always be a significant part of Grantham’s heritage. She and her family have close ties with Grantham. She was born, raised and went to school here.

"It is, therefore, appropriate that she is commemorated by her home town, and that the debate that surrounds her legacy takes place here in Grantham. We must never hide from our history, and this memorial will be a talking point for generations to come. 

"This is about inspiring, educating and informing people about someone who represents a significant part of Grantham’s heritage.”

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A plinth and associated paving were installed on St Peter's Hill Green, close to Grantham Museum, in late 2020 but further progress was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Ms Thatcher (nee Roberts) was born and raised in Grantham and attended Kesteven and Grantham Girls' School, before gaining a scholarship to study at Oxford University. Her father Alfred, a grocer, was mayor from 1945 to 1946. She entered the House of Lords in 1992.

She was prime minister from 1979 to 1990 and was the longest serving of the 20th century.

Her social and economic legacy continues to divide opinion nine years on from her death in April 2013, with strong feelings on both sides of the debate.  The memorial was commissioned and paid for by The Public Memorials Appeal - a registered UK charity with the objective to commission and erect memorials of people with historical importance.