As hundreds show support to repair High Wycombe’s iconic Red Lion, fears are growing that it could be left neglected as confusion over the statue’s ownership continues to thwart repair work.

A petition to save the Red Lion, which once sat proudly overlooking High Wycombe High Street, has gained momentum in the last week as more than 400 residents agreed the town landmark should be preserved for years to come.

READ MORE HERE: Save High Wycombe's Red Lion.

In recent years, the statue has been left neglected with a combination of vandalism and weathering taking its toll.

However, as the Bucks Free Press calls for action, it appears no one wants to claim responsibility for the limping lion – a move which could end any hopes of a full restoration.

--- Sign the Bucks Free Press petition here ---

It is understood that the original lion was first introduced into the town centre landscape between 1772 and 1832, standing on a portico above the former Red Lion Hotel, who owned the statue at the time.

The current owners of the building – which now houses Iceland and Poundworld – Devonshire Investment Holdings Ltd, have in recent weeks distanced themselves from the statue, claiming any repair work is down to Wycombe District Council.

But, representatives of the council have since confirmed that responsibility for maintenance rests with the owner, but the authority has not been able to confirm who that is.

WDC spokesman Simon Farr added that the building on which the Red Lion sits is listed and is within the conservation area.

With more than 400 people signing a Free Press petition in the last week, many are now concerned that the town’s crumbling relic might be left to rot.

--- Find out more about the history of High Wycombe's Red Lion here ---

BFP Nostalgia expert Mike Dewey, who has been researching the history of the Red Lion, is worried what the future holds for the landmark, which was made famous when Sir Winston Churchill used it as a platform to deliver a rousing post-Second World War speech to the people of High Wycombe in 1945.

Bucks Free Press:

BFP Nostalgia expert, Mike Dewey.

Mr Dewey said: “No progress on restoration can be made until the ownership is established.

“The Red Lion is an important part of High Wycombe’s history and we need to make sure we do all we can to ensure it is here for years to come.”

Experts warned last week that if the lion was not repaired within a year it could be lost forever.

In recent years, the tail of the Red Lion was snapped off, but a closer inspection last month by a master carver – who repaired the replica lion in the 1990s – found that large chunks of the paintwork were starting to peel off, leaving the wood and hollow body exposed to the elements.

An online BFP petition has been signed by more than 375 people, with a further 40 signatures being received in the post.

You can show support signing our petition, here.