A group of young people have worked on a number of artworks with local artists to celebrate Stockport’s cast iron heritage and creating the Stockport Art Trail III.
How many times have you looked down and seen the words ‘Needhams Stockport’ at your feet? There can only be a few pavements and roads across the UK and beyond where the iron manhole covers can’t be seen.
In celebration of Stockport’s heritage with both forged and the cast iron trades, local blacksmith David Hyde and local artist Karen Allerton have worked with a group of young people to create cast and wrought iron objects.
The group of young people involved in the project had been researching Stockport’s history when they discovered that cast iron foundries were a major employer in the district. Their focus was mainly on the production of manhole covers.
Each individual involved had a hands on experience of demonstrating a number of skills that would have been used in the forging process to create a sculptural bench. They also created a few cast iron pieces and designed lampposts which will be placed across the Reddish Vale Country Park.
Karen Allerton said,
“The process of hand forging a strip of metal into a decorative piece requires focused concentration, an element of risk taking and potentially a certain amount of frustration, which, after one-to-one sessions with a highly skilled craftsman, resulted in a fantastic sense of achievement and satisfaction from the young people in what they produced.
“Combined with the sense of pride and ownership associated with creating part of a distinctive artwork for their area, this will be an invaluable experience for the young people involved, taking them away from their present situations and giving them the opportunity to experience a totally different creative practice.”
The project was supported by Stockport Council’s Youth Offending Service, Heritage Lottery Fund, Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, Friends of Reddish Vale and the local community.
Councillor Colin Foster, Stockport Council’s Cabinet Member of Children and Family Services, said:
“What these young people have done will be an inheritance to the local community. They will be able to show their successful work to their families and friends in years to come.
“Their artwork will enhance what has been already going on at Reddish Vale Country Park and the young people themselves should be very proud of what they have achieved – it’s absolutely excellent.”