Shining a Light on Maryport
Maryport’s rich history has been highlighted in a new work of art on the harbourside.
Part of Maryport’s charm is its heritage. A stroll around the cobbled streets will uncover Roman origins, a maritime past and a whole host of famous figures. Now a stunning new sculpture has been installed, showcasing the town and this fascinating story.
Reflecting the history of Maryport in its design, as darkness falls the disk-shape sculpture is lit up by coloured lights, making for a spectacular sight which can be admired from various points of the town. Located on the harbourside, opposite the Lake District Coast Aquarium, the piece can be spotted from the Brow Top area, the top of Shipping Brow, as well as from the South Shore, yet this hasn’t stopped people heading down to the harbour to get a glimpse of it up close.
“There’s been an awful lot of people going down to visit it since it’s been in place,” said Maryport Town Clerk, Paul Bramley. “It’s something for local people and tourists alike.”
The piece has been commissioned by Maryport Town Council, supported by a grant from Allerdale Borough Council. “The idea is to help promote maryport, to add to the attractions of the town,” Paul continued. “There are a number of attractions in the harbour area; The Wave, the aquarium and also the maritime museum and Roman museum. It’s something which helps get people visiting the Lake District out to the coast and they will then hopefully visit other organisations and other parts of the town.”
The stainless steel sculpture has been designed, built and fitted by Fire Pit Design, a company based in the Northumberland coastal town of Blyth, who have designed installations for sites such as Alnwick Castle. However, measuring 2.5 metres high, the Maryport sculpture is the company’s largest design to date.
Paul and fellow Town Clerk, Lisa Douglas, consulted with senior members of the council and discussed with the designers which aspects of the town’s history would be reflected in the artwork. The top of the sculpture begins with the origins of Maryport, with the Roman soldier’s helmet, ‘Alauna’ the Roman name for the town and the years of occupation from 122 AD to 410 AD. Moving clockwise around the piece is a depiction of HMS Bounty, with its connection to Fletcher Christian, and then the cobbled Fleming Square, named after Mary Fleming the wife of Humphrey Senhouse, a local landowner who obtained an act of parliament to develop the new town and harbour.
The industries of the town are also illustrated with coal mining, shipbuilding, the Maryport and Carlisle railway and the old railway station all featuring. The centre of the sculpture is inspired by the town’s harbour, with a trawler representing the fishing industry and the famous lighthouse of Maryport harbour, which is often spotted in LS Lowry’s paintings.
The seaward-facing side of the sculpture, designed to look like a giant compass and inspired by the sails of a ship, features an anchor and chain, seagulls and a more modern reflection of ‘Marra’ the dolphin, who famously visited the town a few years ago.
The images and shapes have been cut to create a silhouette effect, allowing them to stand out during the day with the sun shining through, and of course, when lit up at night. The coloured lights, which have six different phases, will be switched on at the same time as the town’s street lights.
The Town Council have put it to the people of Maryport to come up with a suitable name for the sculpture. This will be announced, along with the unveiling of a plaque outlining the history of the town, at an official opening ceremony later this year.
“A plaque is being designed, principally for visitors to explain the history of Maryport, “ Paul added. “But also for local people to point out the different features and how they connect with Maryport’s history.”
PHOTOGRAPHY BY JAN FIALKOWSKI