Hopes statue will be as iconic as ‘Ribble Piddler’

Artist's impression of statue to replace Ribble Piddler

Artist's impression of statue to replace Ribble Piddler

Waterway campaigners are hoping the new Ribble Link statue will become as iconic as the ‘Ribble Piddler’.

The £30,000 boat statue will finally be installed later this month, after a series of hold- ups which plagued the last piece of public art.

Nicknamed the ‘Ribble Piddler’, a 16ft oak sculpture, which cost around £21,000, was commissioned by British Waterways in 2003.

Officially called Gauging the Ripple, it was carved to celebrate the UK’s first new waterway for a century, and was part of an arts trail, along with three other smaller pieces.

But the statue had to be removed when it began to rot around four years ago.

Cliff Fazackerley, chairman of the Ribble Link Trust, admitted it had been a “very long, drawn-out process” to replace the artwork.

He said: “It started several years ago when the other statue had to be taken down because it had started to rot.

“That’s why we felt we had to put something new up, and we decided we would go for something different. Rather than wood, we would go for a metal structure this time.

“It’s the shape of a wave that is 3m (10ft) high, and then, on top of that, is a narrow boat made of stainless steel.

“On it is a man steering the boat and, in the boat, there are all the tools that they used at that time to build the canal.”

Cliff said the base was made of a metal which would turn a “rust” colour over time.

Those behind the plan hope the statue will last longer than its ill-fated predecessor.

Cliff said: “Unfortunately, the disappointing thing is that (the previous statue) already had a fungus in it when it was purchased. It got to the position where they looked at it and, for health and safety reasons, it had to be taken down.

“It was iconic.

“People saw it from that road and we wanted something to replace it that will set off the location, so people realise that’s the start of the Ribble Link.

“It’s a little bit late but never mind. We’re happy.”

Stephen Higham, enterprise manager at the Canal and River Trust, said an unveiling event was now due to be held in June.

He said: “We’re pleased the new statue to replace the Gauging The Ripple figure is being installed at the end of April.

“There’s been a slight delay with the installation as we had to make sure the new statue could be installed safely, as it’s right next to the water with difficult access, and was done at the right time of the year.

“The new statue will be a great attraction for the visiting boaters and local community.

“We plan to hold an event in June to unveil this iconic piece of art.”

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