Once one of High Wycombe’s most treasured landmarks, and forever linked to Winston Churchill’s rousing post- Second World War speech, the Red Lion statue is now a crumbling relic which may soon be lost forever.

The replica statue, which sits on top of a portico in the heart of High Street, has been part of the backdrop to the town for centuries but is now in “an embarrassed state” after years of neglect.

Bucks Free Press:

The High Wycombe Red Lion has been damaged in recent years - ARM Images.

The Bucks Free Press is among campaigners calling for the lion to be restored to its former glory in order to fill the town with pride once again.

Woodcarver Frank Hudson created the current replica lion in the 1950s after the former one – which is believed to be the original – was rehomed in Wycombe Museum.

In the last few years, a combination of vandalism and weathering has taken its toll on the iconic figure – with the loss of the lion’s tail recently compounding residents’ concerns.

Jackie Kay, chairman of the High Wycombe Society, said: “It’s extremely important – it’s part of the identity of Wycombe.

“People know about the lion, lots of people see it every day, it has been here for a long time and obviously we hope it remains a part of the town for many years to come.

“The point when it was really brought to my attention was when the tail fell off. As one of High Wycombe’s most prominent landmarks it’s a bit embarrassing.

Bucks Free Press:

The High Street has changed over the years - but the Red Lion has always been a feature.

“I would like to see the matter of having it fixed very high on people’s agendas.”

She added: “The lion is pretty unique for High Wycombe. It is fairly unusual to have a standing red lion as a statue and you would struggle to find one exactly the same anywhere else.”

Last year, the former mayor of High Wycombe addressed the town from the portico – following in the footsteps of former prime ministers Winston Churchill and Benjamin Disraeli.

Bucks Free Press:

Former mayor, Cllr Khalil Ahmed, stood alongside the Red Lion when delivering a speech last year - ARM Images.

Back in 1945, people climbed lampposts and hung out of windows to watch Churchill’s post-war speech, with the Red Lion picked as the perfect location for one of the milestone moments in the town’s history.

Bucks Free Press:

Winston Churchill gave a post-WWII speech next to the Red Lion in 1945.

It was originally created in connection with the former Red Lion Hotel and more recently has an association with Woolworths.

And, despite well-known organisations and community facilities disappearing from that area of town over the years, the Red Lion has been a constant presence.

There is still hope that the limping lion could be returned to its former glory, with discussions ongoing with the owners of the building where it is located.

Bucks Free Press:

Patched-up: The tail on the Red Lion was re-connected last year.

High Wycombe mayor Cllr Mohammed Hanif and town clerk Paul Deacon have held discussions with the owners, and Cllr Hanif says they hope for “good news” soon.

He said: “It is being assessed and we’re going through the process, having talks with the owners, and hopefully we will have some good news soon.

“It needs a face lift. As with all of these things, if it is left open to the weather it will get damaged and won’t look as good as it has.

“It is a major part of Wycombe’s history and we must give it the care and attention that it deserves.”