The great and the good gathered to officially open Leyland’s brand new gateway feature this morning – and what a “Bobby dazzler” he is!
Towering at 15ft high, Bobby the Iron Horse stands next to the roundabout connecting Schleswig Way and Longmeanygate.
The Mayor and Mayoress of South Ribble were joined by councillors, representatives from sponsors C&W Berry and Ulnes Walton Bridleways Association, and fabricator Dave Palmer from D P Structures, who created the giant artwork.
Mayor Councillor Mick Titherington, said: “What a fantastic addition to the town our Bobby is. He’s our ‘Angel of the North’ and is destined to be an iconic landmark in Lancashire.”
Ulnes Walton Bridleways Association, which sponsored the project, has long wanted something in the town in recognition of the historical importance of the horse in Leyland’s heritage.
Sue Taylor-Green, from the group, said: “We are so pleased to have promoted the importance of the horse in our community, past, present and future.”
She also shed some light on where the name “Bobby” came from.
“It was quite poignant when we realised that the site of the structure had some 30 years previously been the site of the original house and stables of a well-known local rag and bone man and his horse Bobby,” said Sue. “This is where the name Bobby comes from.”
Locals have already taken Bobby to their hearts, with him being voted the town’s best gateway feature in a Facebook poll, and with the council’s social media post announcing his arrival being seen by more than 27,000 people.
Peter Gardner, Sales and Marketing Manager at sponsor C&W Berry, said: “C&W Berry Ltd are delighted to be involved in such an iconic landmark and we would like to congratulate David Palmer of DP Structures and his team for producing such an impressive sculpture.
“Bobby the horse truly represents our proud history in Leyland, with goods being transported from the docks in Preston to our joiners shop at King Street by horse and cart as recently as the mid-20th Century.”
Bobby joins the Centurion Tank, Norma the Fire Engine and William the Vintage Tractor as the town’s latest gateway feature.
The horse represents Leyland’s agricultural history, when the town was known as the “garden of Lancashire”. Produce was collected, transported and delivered by heavy horses pulling agricultural carts.
Councillor Phil Smith, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Leisure, said: “Bobby has already been really popular with our residents, with lots of people saying the sculpture makes them proud to live in Leyland.
“We were able to deliver this project thanks to the Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal, a £430m investment in central Lancashire, which will bring thousands of new jobs, homes and road improvements over 10 years.”
The project was also supported by C&W Berry and Ulnes Walton Bridleways Association.