Aground Force show Penwortham is blooming

Volunteers with their Penwortham in Bloom floral boat display
Volunteers with their Penwortham in Bloom floral boat display

Volunteers have pushed the boat out to show visitors what a blooming good place they live in.

Officials of Penwortham In Bloom have launched their first “gateway” art installation to brighten up one of the key routes into their town.

The renovated dinghy, filled with flowers and shrubs, has been beached near a roundabout close to Penwortham Holme playing fields to provide a colourful welcome to passing travellers.

“We’re really proud of the way it has turned out,” said committee member Melvyn Gardner. “The idea to do this goes back two or three years. Now it’s finished it looks brilliant.”

The flower boat is Penwortham’s first outdoor craft installation in a borough which has been setting something of a trend for gateway art.

Leyland has four roadside displays to celebrate its manufacturing past. A Centurion tank, a vintage tractor, a pre-war fire engine and a huge iron horse have all been installed over the past five years to brighten up busy junctions. The town also has a sculture of a flat-capped worker at the entrance to its market hall to signify the site was once a Leyland Motors factory.

Lostock Hall has a breathtaking new war memorial on a key road intersection. And Bamber Bridge boasts the Iron Tree sculpture which has appeared on its main street as part of a major renovation of Station Road.

“They are all over other parts of South Ribble, yet despite Penwortham being the second largest town in the borough, we didn’t have one,” added Melvyn. “I don’t know why that is, but we’ve put that right now.

“Maybe it will be the start of something in Penwortham. I’ve got an idea in my head that we could maybe try and get hold of an old steam train and do that up, because we used to have a railway line here - from Preston to Southport - before the bypass was built.

“It’s got to be something of significance for the town. The boat was because we are near the River Ribble. A train would mark our railway history.”

Penwortham In Bloom appealed through the Lancashire Post for the boat and a family donated it after reading the article. Local decorator Bernard Watson did it up and Newgate Nurseries filled it with plants.

“The boat belonged to their dad John who had passed away and it was just left rotting in the back garden,” said Melvyn. “So it’s a great memorial for the Williams family to remember him.”