Schoolgirl kick-starts fundraising campaign for sculpture of Lizzie the legendary Sheffield elephant

A determined schoolgirl has kick-started a fundraising campaign to erect a sculpture of a circus elephant who helped keep Sheffield’s steel industry running during World War One.

Saturday, 6th February 2021, 4:45 pm

Lizzie the elephant came to Sheffield as part of William Sedgwick’s menagerie before being leased to scrap metal merchant Thomas Ward to replace horses conscripted by the military as part of the war effort in 1916.

Her strength equivalent to three horses, she was put to work transporting materials to Sheffield’s foundries and steel makers – materials they so desperately needed to power the country’s armed forces.

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Lilly Holmes from Killamarsh has now launched a fundraiser for a sculpture of Lizzie the Elephant in Sheffield

After researching Lizzie as part of a lockdown project, 11-year-old Lilly Holmes from Killamarsh has launched a fundraising campaign toward a scrap metal sculpture of the legendary elephant near Ladies Bridge where she was once stabled.

Lilly’s mum Zoe said: “Lilly’s had lots of support. I think she was a bit overwhelmed at first but is taking it all in her stride and is really excited about it all.

"I just think it’s exciting for other children to learn about the history of their home town. If there was a sculpture I think it would encourage that conversation.”

Zoe tasked Lilly with speaking to family members over the phone to fuel her research to improve her social and communication skills and that has definitely been the case.

Lizzie the elephant, who worked for scrap merchant Thomas Ward during the First World War

Since sharing her story with The Star, Lilly has been in contact with a woman whose great-grandfather looked after Lizzie as well as an author who is writing a children’s novel about the legendary elephant.

The family have also spoken to Jason Heppenstall, the artist behind the steel salmon sculpture outside Sheffield railway station, who has offered his advice and services to the campaign.

A total of £6,500 needs to be raised which will cover the material and haulage costs as well as those relating to labour.

Zoe added: “Even if it’s just a smaller sculpture, similar to the elephant trail size, at least it’s something there to just commemorate Lizzie. If Lilly’s story just encourages another child to look into the history of the local area, that in itself would be really good too.”

Lilly Holmes from Killamarsh who has been learning about Lizzie the Elephant has been blown away the support she has received

The family are unsure whether planning permission will be needed for the sculpture and have asked anyone with knowledge to get in touch via [email protected]

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.

Thomas Ward's Lizzie the elephant in The Lord Mayor's Parade in 1979