Posted 14th June 2020
Two familiar faces in photographs from a visit to the 1990 Gateshead's National Garden Festival were recently glimpsed in a St. Peter's resident's family photo album. The two faces were none other than those of the neigbourhood's iconic Fish with Two Heads statue.
The statue was originally commissioned by the late homebuilder Sir Lawrie Barratt of Barratt Homes. Sir Lawrie had asked the then local community artist to work with children from Byker Primary School to create their own vision for a statue - eventually the river monster we still see today.
Sir Lawrie planned for the statue to stand welcoming visitors at the main entrance to his landmark St. Peter's Basin residential, leisure and commercial development. Before this happened, the Fish with two Heads was loaned to the Festival, and afterwards installed as planned at the top of Dobson Crescent. During the first six months of the statue's public life spent near Dunstion Staithes at the hugely successful National Garden Festival 1990 in Gateshead, it was seen by millions of visitors from across the world.
Today, and nearly thirty years since Princess Diana opened St. Peter's marina village, the Fish with Two Heads is still in its original location. And it is still seen by visitors from across the world passing through St. Peter's on Hadrian's Way.
Four years ago, a group of fifty or so resident volunteers undertook a rescue and restoration of the statue after it had disappeared underneath a shrubbery. Since then, and under the care of volunteers and St. Peter's Neighbourhood Association, the statue continues to enjoy the occasional makeover and ongoing improvements to its garden. As intended by Sir Lawrie, The Fish with Two Heads still welcomes visitors to this unique riverside neighbourhood at St. Peter's.