A rally took place in front of Glasgow’s Gallery of Modern Art this evening to celebrate a decades-long tradition of placing a traffic cone on the head of the 19th-Century statue of the Duke of Wellington, and protest efforts by Glasgow City Council to end the practice.
The council announced on Monday that a £65,000 project to restore the statue, which was designed by Italian artist Carlo Marochetti and erected in 1844, would involve raising the plinth on which it stands to deter vandals from climbing it and placing the now-iconic traffic cone.
However, widespread public outcry yesterday forced the council to withdraw its planning application. The “#conegate” story went viral, and an online petition raised over 10,000 signatures defending the cone. Council officials have warned, though, that they are still considering action against the practice.
The council insists that the regular removal of the cone incurs a cost of £10,000 per year, and its original planning application claimed it projects a “depressing image” of the city. Historian Gary Nisbet has long held that the practice also causes damage to the A-listed statue.
Proponents of the cone, though, say it is a widely-revered tradition that “represents the very best of the city’s civic space”. Those who attended the pro-cone rally organised by National Collective raised signs with pun-filled slogans like “Coney No Dae That”, and “We Are All The Glasgow Cone”.
The immediate future of the Wellington Cone is still not clear, but this week’s turbulent events indicate it will be a hotly contested matter.