A STATUE of Stan Laurel has finally arrived in the region after being delayed by a series of natural disasters in Asia.
The life-sized statue was being built in a foundry in China when this year’s earthquake hit the country, and was caught up in a typhoon as it was transported 11,500 miles from Asia to England.
It is now safely in storage ahead of being put up in Bishop Auckland town centre.
The actor and comedian, who rose to fame with partner Oliver Hardy in the Twenties, lived and went to school in the town.
Artist Bob Olley, who created the statue, travelled to the Chinese province of Chengdu to see workers at a foundry complete it.
In May, a fortnight after he left China, Mr Olley, from South Shields, South Tyneside, heard of the massive earthquake that hit the country, killing tens of thousands of people.
He lost contact with the foundry for a number of days before he received an email saying all the staff and the statue were safe.
He said: “We did not lose that much time from the earthquake.
“The Chinese are brilliant at recovering and I cannot speak too highly of them. The quality of workmanship is excellent.”
Mr Olley paid tribute to the foundry workers by writing the word Chengdu next to his name on the statue.
He said: “It is nice to be standing next to Stan here in Bishop Auckland considering it could have been standing halfway round the world covered in rubble or water.”
The statue was put on a boat in Shanghai, where it braved a typhoon before it crossed the Indian Ocean and passed through the Suez Canal.
Peter Dunn, of Wear Valley District Council, said: “Stan Laurel is one of Bishop Auckland’s most famous sons and he is going into his rightful place at Theatre Corner, which was the Eden Theatre,
where his father was manager.
“The people of Bishop Auckland will really look forward to seeing him for the first time and I am sure they will fall in love with him.”
The statue will be unveiled on Sunday morning.