On Saturday, April 27, a statue of a sleeping dragon was reinstated on a Presteigne roundabout due to popular demand.

The dragon was made by Pete Smith and a team of volunteers and was originally made as a temporary installation that was in place from August 3, 2014 to November 11, 2018.

The Sleeping Dragon represents the 35,000 Welshmen lost in the First World War and was present on the roundabout for this four-year period to match the length of the conflict.

After being asked for several years, Pete decided to refurbish the dragon with volunteers helping after a JustGiving page had raised £3,461 to see the dragon return. 

A large group gathered at the roundabout in Presteigne recently to see the unveiling of the dragon and to welcome it back to the town.

The Presteigne Dragon
(© Alex Ramsay 2024)

Creator of the Sleeping Dragon, Pete Smith told the Brecon & Radnor Express: “Originally, we made it for a war memorial to go to Belgium but that fell through, so we decided that we would build it here instead.  

“It was a surprise piece really, we didn’t tell anyone we were first doing it, we just went and put it up on August 3, 2014, which is the day before the start of the centenary of the First World War. The idea was that it would stay there until 2018 which would be the end of the centenary celebrations, so it was there for four years. 

“The expectation was that we would be asked to move it, but that didn’t happen. It stayed there for the four years and grew in acceptance and people started putting little wooden crosses around it in November for Armistice Day. That went on four years and eventually we got to the point in 2018 where we were going to take it away because it’s an interactive art piece, it was not really a war memorial in those terms – the object of the exercise was if it’s there long enough you’ll get used to it and when it’s taken away, you’ll suffer a degree of loss and what we were trying to do was make people feel what it’s like to lose somebody like that in the war.

“We put a bronze plaque on it in Welsh saying, ‘At the start of the day and at the setting of the sun we will remember them.’ We did that in Welsh because it is primarily for the 35,000 Welshmen who lost their lives and word slowly got out about it and it just grew its own persona if you like and when we took it away there was an outcry.

“We ended up with a Dray and two Shire horses from Carmarthen, paid for by the Royal Welsh Show. The Dragon was put on the back of the Dray and paraded into Presteigne with about four hundred people behind it singing the Welsh national anthem. Then it came back to my workshop for the next four or five years and I was continually pestered to put it back and the money was raised to do so. We did a complete refurb on the dragon that took a year to do.”

The Presteigne Dragon
(© Alex Ramsay 2024)

Speaking about the return of the Sleeping Dragon, Pete said: “I think everyone is generally happy it’s back, there’s of course one or two that don’t like it, but you expect that.

 “I feel like I’ve done what the people want, and I’m pleased that it’s there. I’m proud that we managed to put it back and I’m terribly proud of the volunteers that helped me do it because without them it wouldn’t have happened.”