Gallus Glasgow W: Wellington

Duke of Wellington and cone
Duke of Wellington and cone

Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, hero of Waterloo and twice Prime Minister, has sat on his horse outside what is now the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) since 1844. For the first 140 years or so he was unmolested, but sometime around the 1980s the tradition of capping him with a traffic cone emerged. The council and the police don’t like this, but as fast as they take one down, another goes up in its place, costing, allegedly, £10,000 per year to remove.

Living statueIn 2013, Glasgow City Council considered a £65,000 plan to raise the statue’s plinth in an attempt to deter the ‘coning’ of the Duke. This led to #Conegate: a storm on Twitter and Facebook, an online petition and even a rally to Keep the Cone. The plans were quietly dropped and the cone remains. GoMA (owned by the council which so dislikes it) continues to sell greetings cards of the coned Duke and a new hotel is using his image in its interior decor because it represents the humour of Glasgow. I found the article about this quite hilarious. Apparently the Sculptor in Ordinary to the Queen in Scotland (me neither) thinks the cone is comparable to “acts of cultural destruction carried out by so-called Islamic State.” Get a grip!

The street artists are getting in on the act too. I came across the mini-Wellington above in Buchanan Street before Christmas. I’m not sure he’d want to ride into battle on that horse, but he looks pretty gallus all the same.

X is a bothersome letter – I bet lots of people have to cheat a bit, and I’m no exception. Come back tomorrow to find out what Glasgow X represents.


  1. What in the world is a Sculptor in Ordinary to the Queen? And I’m sorry, but I don’t think the “Islamic state” would be putting cones on top of statues’ heads. If he’s speaking of terrorists, they’d be blowing it up. The tiny horse statue is hilarious.


  2. Seeing Wellington with his ‘hat’ always makes me smile. I’ve seen him with a scarf in winter as well, obviously someone worried he was going to get a bit chilly.

    Didn’t he feature in the opening for the Commonwealth Games as well? 😉


  3. I love the cone. With all the art in your city, I think it’s a great fit 😉 Lots of old statues in the world that people never take the time to look at.

    You can find me here:


  4. Cone-headed Wellington makes me all kinds of happy, as do Stoddard’s fatuous remarks. Interesting title, Sculptor in Ordinary–that’s new to me. Always pick up something fun, fascinating or both on your blog!


  5. My friend and I are planning a trip to the UK at the end of the year and will definitely be heading up to Scotland as part of it. Now we’ll have to go and find this statue to ensure he’s got his cone on 🙂


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