Derby

Mr Potato Head statue to return to Belper

Mr Potato Head, Belper
Image caption A 7ft statue of Mr Potato Head was given to the Derbyshire town by its American twin town

A "hideous" statue of Mr Potato Head which was banished from a town in the early 2000s is set to return.

It was given to Belper in Derbyshire by its American twin town of Pawtucket, Rhode Island - the character's birthplace - in 2001 as a gift.

Although some residents liked it, others were not keen and, after it was vandalised, it was taken to the nearby American Adventure theme park.

The 7ft (2.1m) fibreglass statue is now being refurbished by a youth group.

Belper, which is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its links to the Industrial Revolution, was divided when the statue, worth £6,000, was positioned in the town.

One resident told BBC Radio 4 at the time it was "hideous" and later the same year it was damaged and taken to the theme park, which closed in 2008.

Image copyright Rex Features
Image caption Mr Potato Head was the first toy to be advertised on TV

He has been "missing" since then, according to Andrea Fox, who runs the Drop Inn youth centre, until he turned up at the club's door earlier this month in a poor state of repair.

"We took him in and had a look at him, he was very poorly - looking very shabby," said Ms Fox.

"We're looking after him, giving him some TLC and some nice new clothes.

Image caption The fibreglass statue was looking a bit "poorly" when it turned up in Belper earlier this month

"We've had to peel him, we've stripped him down and sandpapered him, then we're going to undercoat him, seal him and do a few minor repairs to him."

John Nelson, leader of the town council, said he was glad to see Mr Potato Head back and it would be an interesting talking point, but it has not been decided where it will be displayed.

Invented in 1952, Mr Potato Head became the first toy to be advertised on television and is still made in Pawtucket by Hasbro. It later featured in Disney's Toy Story films.

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