Proposals for a new sculpture trail

Inspired by the reaction to the loss of "Midnight" the Tree Sculpture in early 2019 Friends of the Park developed plans for a new sculpture trail to enhance the park and link up with trails on the canal and down at the Mellor Mill site. It was proposed that the trail would feature six sculptures inspired by local primary school children and a carved reading lectern near to the library in the same central spot that "Midnight" was once located. In early 2020 our first grant application was unsuccessful and the project is now on hold due to Covid19.

“Midnight” inspiration for new Sculpture Trail in Park

In 2007 the Friends group campaigned to save a large copper beech tree in the park that was due to be removed by the council. The trunk was saved, and the group raised funds to create a wildlife sculpture. Working alongside schools in the local area on the design and name of the statue, a chainsaw artist began the carving at a public event in the park. Over 1,000 pupils were involved with the project, with over 400 pictures submitted and 1,000 voted on names for the statue. Removed due to root decay in 2019, the huge popularity of this lost feature is the inspiration for a new sculpture trail we would like to create.

It is proposed that the new sculptures would be made from oak and mounted on steel bases to raise them above the ground, ensuring that they will last much longer than a rooted stump like "Midnight". Here are a few photos charting the history of "Midnight":

Tree sculpture underway in the summer of 2007
Carving gets underway at the 2007 Marple Locks Festival

"Midnight" begins to emerge
"Midnight" begins to emerge like he was always in there!

Midnight near the library
The finished Midnight sculpture showing proximity to Marple's library

Story Time at the launch of Midnight in 2008
Story Time at the launch of Midnight in 2008, where the lectern is now planned to be located

Here are a few images of work produced by Mike Burgess

Mike Burgess is the artist we hope to commission to create the new sculpture trail using oak logs donated by local tree surgeon Myers Tree Care. Mike is a professional chainsaw artist working across the Northwest who creates wooden carvings made to order, mainly using chainsaws and power-tools. He works regularly with schools and local parks to create beautiful sculptures from 2' high to large bespoke pieces, often with a wildlife theme. Mike likes to involve children in designs as much as possible and has the relevant insurance to carve on site, allowing children to see work take shape. Mike comes highly recommended and has a large selection of his work on his website and social media pages.

Mike Burgess Art

Rubbing Tiles to link with Marple's Canal Trails

Marple's famous flight of 16 locks on the Peak Forest Canal runs right alongside Marple Memorial Park with entrances at Locks 10 and 12. The park's wildlife walk follows the perimeter of the park bordering the canal. Leaving the park and heading north will will take visitors past Oldknow's Warehouse and descending Locks 10 to 1, eventually arriving at the historic Marple Aqueduct. Leaving in the other direction will ascend Locks 12 to 16, taking visitors through the fascinating Horse Tunnel, on to Top Lock, where two canals meet, and to the Lime Kilns - an ancient scheduled monument. Energetic visitors can also make the trip to the nearby site of Mellor Mill down in the beautiful Goyt Valley. By incorporating Rubbing Tiles in the park sculpture trail it will link these trails together and visitors to the canals will be encouraged to detour into the park to collect more.

A Rubbing Tile on the Marple Flight of Locks
A Rubbing Tile on the Marple Flight of Locks

Other Art Related Projects in Marple Memorial Park

Diamond Jubilee Flowerbed and Sculpture

A Diamond Jubilee Flowerbed and Sculpture in front of the library, transforming a rundown and neglected flowerbed full of weeds into an attractive raised bed with a metal art sculpture inspired by the Queen’s Coronation, the crown jewels and the amazing illuminations on the Mall. Funding was raised within the local community and the design and planting was done in partnership with local 6th form college horticultural students. Sculpture created for us by metal artist Wayne Chaisty.

Diamond Jubilee Project
The Diamond Jubilee Project interpretation panel

Wayne Chaisty working on the sculpture
Wayne Chaisty working on the metal-art sculpture

Volunteers replanting the flowerbed in 2013
Volunteers replanting the flowerbed in front of the library in 2013

Permanent WWI Timeline

In August 2014 Friends of Marple Memorial Park began what they have called “Marple's WWI Timeline” on the railings of Hollins House in the park. The group's objective was to commemorate the Centenary of the First World War and to highlight the impact it had on a small town like Marple. A card was added to the display in "real-time" on the 100th anniversary of each man's death, creating a glimpse of how the community must have felt as they were bombarded by bad news during WWI. The time-line was so popular and well used that it was turned into a permanent display in time for 11 November 2018, 100 years after Armistice Day. The displays were designed by the group and printed for us by local firm HB Printing.

School children using the Time-Line in November 2018
Children seek answers about local men on the Time-Line in the park during November 2018

A typical permanent panel on the Time-Line
One of the six permanent panel on the Time-Line explaining the lives of 141 men on the war memorial

WWI Silhouette Artwork at the Park's entrances

Inspired by the WWI centenaries and the fact that the park came into being as a War Memorial Park in 1922, after the end of the First World War, we designed and commissioned two stainless steel WWI silhouette artwork signs for the front and rear entrances to the park. Inspired by our design, the metalwork and laser cutting for these were provided free of charge by Advanced Engineering Techniques of Sheffield. The only costs associated with this project were for the black backgrounds and a variety of stainless fixtures and fittings. Installation was by completed by our volunteers.

WWI Silhouette Artwork
One of two double-sided silhouette art panels created by Friends of the Park

BBC Breathing Places Reading Circle

In 2007 the Friends successfully applied for a grant from the Big Lottery Fund as part of the hugely successful BBC-led Breathing Places campaign. The campaign, driven by BBC's Autumnwatch and Springwatch programmes, had enthused and energised thousands across the country to get involved in community projects to make space for nature. Our project was developed in partnership with Stockport Library Services and the Council's Parks and Recreation Team to improve and enhance the woodland area behind the Marple Library for both wildlife and people. The incorporation of a circular reading area with full disabled access penetrating into the woodland created an outdoor 'room' to provide a window into the natural wildlife habitat surrounding it.

Coffee break in the Reading Circle with volunteers
Coffee break in the Reading Circle with young volunteers

Beaver Scouts and parents planting in the woodland
Beaver Scouts and parents planting in the woodland

Breathing Places launch event in 2008
Breathing Places launch event in 2008

Park entrance noticeboard

Park entrance noticeboard explaining the history and heritage of the park designed and created by Friends of the Park. The map featured on this display will be used in the promotional leaflet for the new Sculpture Trail.

Park entrance notice board

Treasure Hunt in the Park

A Treasure Hunt event in the park. The Treasure Hunt is aimed at 3 to 10 year olds with parents, grandparents or carers to assist as needed. Hunt for clues throughout the park and answer questions to reveal the information that will open the Treasure Chest for a share of the prize. There are two sets of clues aimed at ages 3-5 years and 6-10 years. The Treasure Hunts have become hugely popular and have raised a total of £7,644 for the park in the last 5 years!

The launch event for the Sculpture Trail will follow a similar theme involving finding clues at all of the sculpture locations.

The 2018 Treasure Hunt
The 2018 Treasure Hunt

Watch our video to learn more about Friends of Marple Memorial Park