The Quest for the Old General

The statue of the Old General in 1971; Credit: George L Roberts

In January 2016, the BBC reported the disappearance of a statue of a Nottingham character known as the Old General – real name Benjamin Mayo. The statue had, according to the article, ‘…stood above the door of a Nottingham pub of the same name for more than 100 years.’

The pub referred to was in Hyson Green, and at the time of the BBC article it was being developed into shops and flats.

The developer’s agent was quoted as saying that the statue was ‘in a secret location’ and that it would ‘definitely’ be returning to the building.

As of January 2022, there was still no sign of the statue’s return, so I decided to do some detective work.

A planning application for the redevelopment of the pub building, accessed via the Nottingham City Council website, provided some details that enabled me to make contact with a firm who had knowledge of the project. After making some enquiries, they were able to tell me that the statue was in storage and would NOT be returning to the building.

This was disappointing, though perhaps not surprising. The good news, however, was that the developer was willing for the statue to be displayed elsewhere.

An excellent article on the Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature website tells us that the statue was sculpted by Joseph Holmes, whose brother, John Holmes, built the pub in 1883, some 40 years after Benjamin Mayo’s death.

Given the historic nature of the statue, and the fact that it was such a well-known and well-loved feature of the city, it seems right that it should be on display somewhere. But where? If you have any ideas, or know of anyone who might be able to help, please send a message to:

In the meantime, if you’d like to learn more about the Old General, I’ve transcribed several old written pieces about him and prepared a short piece myself in response to the question of where he is buried:

More about the Old General
Where is the Old General buried?