Ellesmere Port did not exist as a place until the Victorian pioneers decided to build a canal that connected the River Mersey with the Cheshire town of Ellesmere. The canal took 12 years to complete and was finished in 1805.
The people who live in Ellesmere Port today celebrated the bi-centenary of this remarkable history, commissioning a range of commemorative artworks and urban elements for the town. The 5m tall bronze gateway sculpture entitled ‘The Pioneers’, portrays the enterprise of both the visionaries, and the life of those that worked the canals and built the industrial age. The modelling of the sculpture was undertaken in Ellesmere Port and local schools were invited to watch them being made.
This work commissioned in 2004 by Ellesmere Port and Neston Borough Council, aimed to improve the environment and sense of welcome at the approach to Ellesmere Port Town Centre from the M53. The environmental improvements included a low relief bronze plaque mounted adjacent to the Ellesmere Port Boat Museum, that illustrates the life of the Mersey as viewed from Ellesmere Port.
A series of substantial purpleheart timber and cast bronze markers were set at the various gateways to the town. These include the fabricated ‘Sail Feature’ illustrating shapes and patterns drawn from the towns industrial heritage. An artwork entitled ‘Migration’ fabricated out of a cor-ten and coloured glass works as a substantial screen raised on columns and following the curve of the corner space at the approach to Westminster bridge. A paving feature witha curved oak bench mirrors the screen on the other side of this main route into the town centre.
Along the route a series of seating units and cast aluminium planters were positioned, inspired by the towns connection with the manufacture of corrugated iron.
These elements were all installed in 2004.