WHAT has this beautiful statue got in common with a row over the closure of a factory in the Rhondda, South Wales, along with a theatrical company and thousands of babies born in Basingstoke?

Many mothers, and indeed grandmothers, may well recognise the simple statue, because it stood in the entrance hall of The Shrubbery - the former maternity home in Cliddesden Road.

It can now be seen in the entrance of Basingstoke hospital's maternity unit.

The connection with the row in Wales stems from the luxury fashion company Burberry, as The Shrubbery was once the home of the Burberry family.

The company that still bears the family name is currently embroiled in a dispute that has involved the likes of Charlotte Church, Tom Jones and Ioan Gruffudd, as well as the Government's Welsh Secretary Peter Hain, over the imminent closure of Burberry's Treorchy plant, where 300 workers are set to lose their jobs to China.

It is hard to imagine what the founder of the company, Thomas Burberry, would have made of the situation.

With a humble background, he came to Basingstoke as an apprentice to a draper, before establishing a shop of his own here in 1856.

It was Mr Burberry who invented the Gabardine waterproof coat. It is said that this innovative coat, which kept the wearer dry but still allowed air to reach the body, became known as a Burberry, after King Edward got into the habit of saying "give me my Burberry".

Little did Mr Burberry know that his business would blossom into the global brand that it is today, famous for its distinctive beige check pattern.

The eminent non-smoking businessman, who was very religious and a teetotaller, did not actually live at The Shrubbery, as he had a house, called Crossways, in Hook. But his son Thomas Newman Burberry did.

He had seven children, the eldest of whom, Thomas Murray Burberry, continued to live with his mother until the house was sold to Basingstoke District Council in 1946.

They then moved to a house in Kingsclere, called The Hook. In fact, this property has recently been in the news, as it has just been saved from the threat of demolition, thanks to local residents' objections.

The Shrubbery opened as Basingstoke's maternity home in 1947 and remained so until 1974. Thousands of babies were born there, with the 1,000th born in September 1950. The Hants and Berks Gazette on October 6, 1950, reported on the milestone birth of Valerie Diane Andrews, whose mother was presented with a silver spoon by then Basingstoke mayoress Mrs Gifford.

Following The Shrubbery's closure, it remained empty, during which time vandals wrecked the old building.

But, by 1976, the Horseshoe Theatre Company took up residency and turned it into an arts centre.

Many fantastic shows were rehearsed at The Shrubbery, before being performed on stage at Basingstoke's Haymarket Theatre.

The last show to be produced at The Shrubbery was Little Tramp, starring Peter Duncan, of Blue Peter fame.

Sadly, like a lot of Basingstoke's heritage, the building was demolished in 1992. Built in the 1830s, it had contained many interesting Victorian features and artefacts, such as beautiful fireplaces, ceiling work and panelling.

Basingstoke Heritage Society did all it could to save it from the bulldozers, but its final owner, Hampshire Estates, part of Hampshire County Council, thought the building was no longer economically viable.

However, the memories of The Shrubbery live on in a book written by Jean Luffrum and Hannah Williams, published in 1995, called The House in Mary Ann's Garden, a copy of which can be found at Basingstoke Library.