Fury as giant T Rex roars its head in historic Scots village

Antiques dealer John Webb wants to “put a smile on peoples faces" <i>(Image: Michael Traill Photography)</i>
Antiques dealer John Webb wants to “put a smile on peoples faces" (Image: Michael Traill Photography)

The giant head of a T-Rex has caused up-roar in a picturesque seaside village after it appeared bursting from a roof in the heart of a conservation area.

The psychedelic dinosaur, which lights up at night, towers over parts of Cullen, Moray, after being put there by a local antiques dealer to “put a smile on people's faces”.

But it has not been met with the roaring success it was intended.

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While some say it is “quirky” and “fun”, others have branded it ”tacky” and claim it is a “blight on the landscape” and “not in keeping” with the surrounding architecture.

Now Moray Council has weighed in and John Webb, of Cullen Antiques Centre, who put up the former fairground figure 10 months ago, has been forced to submit a retrospective planning application.

HeraldScotland: John Webb with infamous Cullen T Rex
HeraldScotland: John Webb with infamous Cullen T Rex

John Webb with infamous Cullen T Rex (Image: Michael Traill Photography)

Residents have until next month to voice their views before the council decides if the dinosaur, which has been nicknamed by supporters as “Plannerwhosaurus Wrecks”, should be consigned to the history books along with its prehistoric ancestors.

Already more than 30 objections have been lodged over the “unsightly” addition to the historic village, which houses a mix of category A, B and C listed buildings and is part of a conservation area.

But Mr Webb said he is baffled why he needs planning consent, as he says the dinosaur is only there until it sells for “something around £10,000”.

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He said: “It’s comedy, it’s nothing serious. We’re not making a statement. It’s just a bit of fun. I own the building and thought I’d put a bit of art on it to make people happy and put a smile on their faces.

“I’ve said to the council from day one that it’s not permanent. There’s a lot of over-bureaucracy.

Undeterred, he has now launched a competition to name the T-Rex, which comes complete with one “gold leaf” tooth.

Jake Westlake, the artist behind the psychedelic design, said: “People have to go out of their way to take their kids to see it. It just adds a bit of colour and vibrancy to the place.

“But it looks a lot better at night when it’s illuminated - then it really comes to life.”

Shane George, 59, whose property looks directly on to the roaring dinosaur head, however, said: “I hate it. Someone else summed it up perfectly when they said ‘what was an eyesore of a building has been made even worse’.

“When it first went up I looked out the window and thought 'what the hell is that?' I thought it was some kind of temporary promotion but it seems to be permanent. It’s coming up for a year now - and it even lights up at night.”

HeraldScotland: T Rex head in historic Cullen
HeraldScotland: T Rex head in historic Cullen

T Rex head in historic Cullen (Image: Michael Traill Photography)

Gail Slater, 61, who also lives close by, added: “I don’t like it. It’s an eyesore. I know it’s lovely for the kids, but is it necessary?”

“Tacky”, “ugly”, “vulgar” and “monstrosity” were also used by opponents to describe the 6ft-plus structure.

And it is not just locals who have weighed in on the debate. One tourist wrote to the council saying: “As a recent visitor to Cullen, I was horrified to see an ugly dinosaur head plonked atop a building near the green. Cullen Bay is spectacular, but the view is completely destroyed by this vulgar, plastic monstrosity. How on earth this could be allowed is beyond belief.”

Supporters of the roaring T Rex, however, say it has created “much joy”, especially to passing children.

One neighbour, who asked not to be named, said: “It’s definitely divided opinion but I don’t mind it at all. There’s a lot more things to worry about right now than this. It’s bizarre that he’s having to get planning permission.”

Another supporter said: “I like it, it's quirky and a bit of fun”, while one said: “It's brilliant and totally improves the building and brings so much joy to everyone who sees it.

“We love the dinosaur and would be sad to see it go”, added another, while one person described it as a “lovely funny addition to a drab village”.

One local even suggested that “maybe it could be accompanied by a dilophosaurus”.

Another told planning bosses: “The dinosaur is a bit of fun and my children love to see it when we go through Cullen. As Cullen is mainly a tourist attraction the dinosaur is part of the charm.”

A spokesman for Moray Council, which was first made aware of the T Rex in May, 2022, said: “Dinosaur heads on a roof are unusual but where operational development occurs these require planning permission.”

A decision is expected to be made at the end of April.