Merseytravel reveals Bootle sculpture

Michael Hunt

Transport authority Merseytravel has unveiled a new sculpture at Bootle Oriel station which aims to reflect and celebrate the history and growth of the area.

Titled "Past, Present and Future", the artwork has been created by local artist Stephen Hitchin and is made from steel and stands eight metres tall.

The station was officially opened in June last year following undergoing multi-million pound improvement works which includes a new ticket office, booking hall, footbridge and new lifts providing free access to the platforms.

The artwork is Hitchin's second commissioned piece for Merseytravel after he was asked to produce three sculptures for Birkenhead Park station in Wirral.

Neil Scales, chief executive and director general of Merseytravel, added: "While we appreciate the need to modernise our facilities, we also recognise the importance of their past and the history surrounding the area, with this in mind we wanted a sculpture that would represent the past, present and future of Bootle, which Stephen has captured perfectly."

The sculpture, part of Merseytravel's public arts strategy, depicts a variety of images of the town throughout the years, including the docks and Captain Johnny Walker.

During the Second World War, the docks made Bootle a target and as a result it was one of the worst hit areas outside of London.

Bootle also played a part in the Battle of the Atlantic. Gladstone Docks as well as Liverpool served as vital ports during the war and never closed despite being the target of repeated bombing raids.

The sculpture also makes reference to the Liverpool overhead railway which ran the length of the docks and was primarily built to ease congestion.

Stephen Hitchin, whose work is currently on display at the University of Liverpool's Victoria Gallery & Museum, said: "The sculpture has been designed to be viewed from all angles, giving people something to see from both the main entrance and also the platform level.

"I spent many hours researching this piece and I was interested to find out so much about Bootle's history, in particular the importance that the area played during the war – it has given me a rich source of reference and I have included what I hope is a fitting tribute, combined with a more up to date reflection of current day events."

Meanwhile, new improvements have been made to Ainsdale Station costing £68,000 which has been funded by Merseytravel.

New customer information screens have also been provided by Network Rail at a cost of around £50,000.

Cllr Mark Dowd, chair of Merseytravel, said: "We hope passengers notice the difference this investment is making. Ultimately, any penny we spend on the rail network is for them."

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I bet any odds this gets vandalised