Sculptures celebrating Prescot’s industrial heritage have been installed at major gateways to the town.
But the sculptures, featuring an array of discs, cables and watches, have divided opinion among Prescot’s residents.
While some have welcomed the effort to promote the town and commemorate its history, others have suggested that the sculptures are difficult to understand and provide little benefit.
One user of the Prescot Chat Facebook group suggested the sculpture now installed on the roundabout by the M57 looked like “swimming pool noodles wedged in a box”.
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The seven sculptures, which cost around £90,000, were produced by Northern Irish artist Martin Heron, who worked with primary school children and local community groups to come up with the designs.
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The colourful designs are intended to evoke the cables produced by the BICC factory that was previously located in the town, while other statues were inspired by the watches produced at the factory in Albany Road.
One member of Prescot Chat praised the recognition of the people who worked at the BICC factory, adding: “I think they are beautiful art. We need something to lift our spirits. Let’s find some joy.”
Another said: “They’re here to get people talking about the area. We are lucky they are spending money in Prescot.”
A third person suggested it would help bring people to the area, along with other developments in the town, saying: “Speculate to accumulate.”
A Knowsley Council spokesperson said: “This is just another fantastic milestone in the regeneration of Prescot town centre.
“It is a key part of the council’s overall ambition to transform the town centre, making it an even more attractive and welcoming place for local residents and the thousands of new visitors to Prescot.
“Prescot residents have had a major involvement in developing this artwork and we’d like to thank everyone who took time to share their thoughts and ideas for these installations through community workshops and drop-ins.
“Key themes that emerged from the consultation have all been incorporated into the design, particularly Prescot’s rich industrial heritage, a strong sense of community and history, and Prescot’s industrial and craftmanship past, including watch and clock making, tool making, and the well-known British Insulated Callander’s Cables (BICC) company.
“All those involved should feel enormous pride that they have helped to create something which will stand in this town for many, many years to come.”
But not everyone was pleased with the results. Some Prescot Chat members described the sculptures as “dreadful” and “a wasted opportunity”.
One said: “People coming to Prescot will not have a clue what they are. They are also a depressing reminder of what happens to a town that allows its biggest employer to go under.”
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Plans approved by the council last year include five sculptures on the M57 roundabout at the western end of the town.
There will be two other sculptures, including a large cable protruding from the roundabout at the junction of Liverpool Road and Kings Drive, and a six metre high stack of cable reels at the St Helens Road roundabout in the north-east of Prescot.
A fourth installation is planned at Prescot Station, including more cable reels and a 50m run of cable.
Artist Martin Heron said: “The Prescotians are great people and this has been one of my favourite projects for community involvement.
“I met so many fantastic folk of all ages and abilities, from school children to young people to the older generation, to share thoughts and ideas as to what the artworks could be. It was great to have a blank canvas and the community had so many ideas and it was the main themes around the town’s rich heritage that were developed to create the final concepts.
“I’ve worked in many places and communities to develop artworks that become part of that town, village and city. The warm welcome that I received when I came to Prescot and the way people got involved and shaped their artworks will stay with me forever.
“Such pride, such ambition and such optimism for the regeneration of their town. As well as feeding into the design of the artworks themselves, people spoke about wanting them to be bigger to have a really positive impact at the important gateways to Prescot.”