Product / system manufacture
Product / system supply
North West England
Hyndburn Borough Council; Lancashire County Council
Landscape Architect - IBI Group; Designer - Smiling Wolf
Whitworth sandstone; granite setts
Hyndburn Borough Council and Lancashire County Council set out to create a revitalised town centre that celebrates Accrington’s notable history, boosts economic regeneration and creates a social space for residents and visitors. The opportunity was taken to pay special tribute to the Accrington Pals, Accrington Stanley FC and the area’s role in the Industrial Revolution.
The Accrington Pals was a battalion that was brought together as part of Kitchener’s Army. They served in Egypt and in the Battle of The Somme where most of the battalion lost their lives fighting on the first day of the Somme. The Pals’ bravery is commemorated in the bespoke benches in the refurbished town square.
The project brought together several collaborators to fulfil the vision of the councils. Landscape Architects IBI Group were appointed to transform the horizontal space, with the help of stone specialists Hardscape, designers Smiling Wolf and paving contractors NMS Ltd.
The project value was close to £1.5 million and was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Hardscape was tasked with supplying hard landscaping options, including artwork expertise and creation.
The benches, made from horizontal duckboards representing the bottom of a trench, are placed in a band of granite setts running around the edge of the town square. The setts were laid in alternating lines, one with cropped setts, and one with flamed setts, to represent a traditional kerb and the trench lines at the battle of the Somme – a tribute to the Pals and all those who fell in World War One.
Working closely with design specialists Smiling Wolf and landscape architects IBI Group, six artworks alluding to a piece of Accrington history were drawn for each bench. The designs included a mixture of historic photographs, quotes and logos. These were realised using Artscape processes, several recently developed.
The historic photographs were laser-etched onto the side of the vertical Kobra granite. Text for the quotes was stencilled and sandblasted to describe the laser-etched images. Waterjet cutting was used to allow for inlaying bronze – this can be seen in the Accrington Stanley FC logo and the bench armrests.
To satisfy the specification for UK-sourced sandstone, Hardscape supplied roughly 6000m2 of sawn Whitworth sandstone. The blocks were laid at random lengths to match existing streets close to the square.
The aim was to create a space to boost economic regeneration in the town centre and act as a social focal point.
Feedback from neighbouring Lancastrian towns and the client was very positive, with the councils particularly impressed with the quality of laser-etched photographs on the side of the benches.