AN historic statue of King Edward VII gave one last royal wave to Bolton as it headed north to its new home at an outdoor museum.

The 104-year-old statue used to stand outside the former Bolton Royal Infirmary in Chorley New Road, but was removed when the hospital was demolished in 1998.

Since then, the ornate piece of masonry has lay gathering coal dust in a maintenance yard at the Royal Bolton Hospital.

Campaigners from the Bolton Nurses League had unsuccessfully fought to have the statue reinstated at the entrance to Queens Park or at the Royal Bolton.

Now, it is on its way to the Beamish Open Air Museum in County Durham where it will be restored.

Former nurse Michael Wyatt, a member of the Bolton Nurses’ League, said he was “over the moon” the statue was being rescued.

Mr Wyatt, aged 69, of Whitefield, said: “We are thrilled and excited that a solution has finally been found where the statue can be saved and restored.

“Ideally we would have liked to have seen it restored at the Royal Bolton but nevertheless we are over the moon that it will be recognised for the piece of art it is. It has been covered in coal dust for too long and I’m sure many people will enjoy it at Beamish.”

The lifesize statue was installed at the infirmary’s nursing home more than 100 years ago to commemorate a visit by the King.

Funded by the Bolton Nurses League, the statue was moved by Darcy Lever haulage firm, Alan Hyndle Transport Limited, yesterday.

Graham Edge, transport manager at the firm, said: “It’s definitely one of the more unusual items we’ve moved but we were happy to help.”

Kate Reeder, head of social history and collections management at Beamish, said: “We would always prefer items to be kept in their community but when that is not possible we are keen to help. We are hoping to use the statue in our Edwardian town. We thought it would make a nice feature to include among the buildings in the exhibit.”

The statue will be restored with the help of a £10.75 million Heritage Lottery Grant.