Police called in following vandalism in Ribble Valley sculpture garden

There have been a series of vandal attacks on a sculpture garden in Ribchester during the latest lockdown.

Thursday, 8th April 2021, 7:02 am

Police have been called in following a spate of vandalism in a sculpture garden.

Two sculptures in the Ribchester Millennium Sculpture Garden were vandalised last week.

The top of a sculpture entitled "A Celebration of Community" was damaged first.

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Damage to the sculpture 'A Celebration of Community' in the Ribchester Millennium Garden

A few days later the base of the Ribchester Millennium Column was found to have been damaged with two chunks of stone broken from its base.

The garden, featuring four sculptures by Yorkshire based sculptor Fiona Bowley and yew hedging, was created as a community project to mark the 2000 millennial year.

It has been enjoyed by residents and visitors for some two decades without any damage, but during the pandemic lockdowns in 2020/2021 there have been at least three attacks on the unique carvings which tell of the village's history and current life. It was thought a pellet gun had been used to chip at some of the sculptures during the previous Coronavirus lockdown.

Coun Carol Milne, chair of Ribchester Parish Council said: " It's just sheer vandalism. The police are involved, will be involved and if they find them (those responsible) I think there may well be a prosecution and perhaps that may deter others."

A view of the Ribchester Millennium Sculpture Garden

Local borough and parish councillor Alison Brown said: " It's very disappointing because it was such a village scheme in the first place....It''s terribly sad. It's an unusual feature and is right next to a playground where there's plenty of space for youngsters to run their energy off."

A new interpretation board recently installed in the Millennium Garden has also been slightly damaged.

Coun Brown now plans to raise the issue at a future meeting of a parishes police liaison committee.

Ribchester parish Council Clerk Deb Groves who reported the damage to police last week said the Celebration of Community carving has been covered, pending repair.

Coun Carol Milne (left) and Coun Alison Brown examine the damage to the Ribchester Millennium Column photo: Kelvin Stuttard

She said: "The sculptures in the Millennium Garden have been treasured and admired since their installation twenty years ago. Ribchester Parish Council was very dismayed to find the damage which had been done to the ‘Celebration of Community’ sculpture sometime around Tuesday, March 30. Other statues had small amounts of damage but the Celebration sculpture had very serious damage to the head and to the top of the pillar. A large part has been exposed which may suffer further damage. The statue has been covered to protect it from the weather and from further damage."

She added: "It is hoped that the artist Fiona Bowley will be able to undertake repairs very soon, so that the garden can be returned to its former standard. The benches, which were removed from the garden for renovation, have now been returned, and it is hoped that residents and visitors will return to use the garden for socially distanced meetings."

The garden is accessed from the village playing fields off Pope Croft with a main entrance off the village's main street Church Street. There are four sculptures including the Millennium Column which tells the story of Ribchester's history, including the discovery of the Ribchester Roman Parade Helmet.

Lancashire Constabulary has been contacted for comment.

Coun Alison Brown pictured by the A Celebration of Community sculpture which has been damaged and is now covered to protect it, pending repairs. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard

For details of sculptor Fiona Bowley's work see FionaBowley.com

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Close up of damage to the Ribchester Millennium Column base