The Red Lion’s return to its rightful place above the High Street will be a “new dawn” for the town centre, the grandson of woodcarver Frank Hudson says.

Tim Hudson said the lion’s restoration would have made his grandfather proud.

Frank Hudson, a prominent Wycombe woodcarver created the current replica lion in the 1950s in his factory in Easton Street.

Addressing the crowds at Wycombe Museum – where the former Red Lion statue, which is believed to be the original, was rehomed – following the unveiling ceremony, Tim Hudson said: “My grandfather would be very proud to see the lion back in all its glory.

“It is an icon for the town and it will help establish the town as a place that people want to visit again. It has got a little bit sad over the last few years and I think it is a new dawn for the High Street.

“This is a great opportunity for High Wycombe to go forward and go from strength to strength.”

High Wycombe’s next mayor, Cllr Brian Pearce, echoed Mr Hudson’s sentiments, adding that the High Street had been looking “shabby” in recent years.

He said: “I am absolutely over the moon to see the Red Lion back, I think it is brilliant.

“The High Street looked a bit shabby and I would love to see it improve. I think it is great, it is an icon of the town and it is very, very important to this town.”

Cllr Pearce added that the iconic statue has “a lot of memories” for residents of the town.

He said: “My mother first came to High Wycombe during the war to visit her sister who was evacuated. She got off the coach and she said “wow look at this” – amongst other things, it was the red lion she saw first.

“I can also remember when Wycombe Wanderers played at Wembley, in the FA cup in about 1953 – they lost but I remember a lady on the red lion saying they were our gallant heroes.

“It has a lot of memories.”