Statues of famous Salopians unveiled in Shrewsbury

Three statues of famous Salopians have been officially unveiled in the centre of Shrewsbury.

War poet Wilfred Owen, Shrewsbury’s town crier Martin Wood and Sabrina, the goddess of the River Severn, have all been immortalised in the new “portrait bench” art sculpture on Smithfield Road.

Shropshire Star readers were asked to vote for their favourite “local heroes” to feature in the art sculpture. More than 15,000 votes were cast in an online poll with readers selecting Wilfred Owen and the goddess Sabrina from a list of nine nominees.

Mr Wood, who has been Shrewsbury’s town crier since 1986, was chosen by pupils at the town’s primary schools. He was present to see his statue unveiled and said he was “chuffed to bits” to have been chosen.

He said: “The steel Martin looks fantastic. I have been telling all my town crier friends from around the world and they are very envious – it’s helping me to spread the word about what a special place Shrewsbury is.”

The £5,000 “portrait bench” has been funded by sustainable transport charity Sustrans and is based on the riverside between Severn Terrace and the boxing gym. It is part of a nationwide art project which has seen 250 figures of local heroes installed in more than 80 locations around the country. Also at the launch were pupils from local primary schools and the town’s mayor Jon Tandy.

Claire Wild, Shropshire Council cabinet member for transport, said: “I’d like to congratulate everyone involved in the design and construction of the Connect2 scheme over the past five years and to thank Sustrans and the Big Lottery Fund for choosing Shrewsbury as one of the places to be involved.

“We have seen that when safe, direct and attractive walking and cycle routes are provided, people will use them for their local journeys. The benefits are wide ranging: from health and air quality though to reduced traffic congestion.”

Henry Harbord, Sustrans area manager added: “The Portrait Bench project is proving a very popular part of this Lottery funded project nationally; and in Shrewsbury the number who voted to choose their favourite for portrayal was phenomenal.”