'It takes your breath away': Crowds gather for official unveiling of Knife Angel in Telford - with pictures
Made of more than 100,000 blades, Shropshire’s iconic Knife Angel sculpture is now standing tall in Telford town centre.
Rain and hail did not put off the crowds who gathered around the 27ft-high statue on Saturday to see it unveiled in its new home on Southwater.
Many took photos and looked in awe as they came face to face with the sculpture, which was created to highlight the issue of knife crime and has been on a nationwide tour.
Live performances also took place next to the Knife Angel and people were entertained by groups including the Rock Choir and The Telford Community Steel Band.
The sculpture was created by self-employed artist Alfie Bradley at the British Ironwork Centre, near Oswestry, out of more than 100,000 knife blades donated by police forces across the UK.
Flick-knives, pen knives, machetes, samurai swords and kitchen knives were collected in amnesties and were used by the 29-year-old to form his creation over a period of a year-and-a-half.
Mr Bradley, from Morda, came to see his sculpture on display in the town at the weekend.
"Already there's a lot of people asking questions," he said.
"The message is getting out there. It's fantastic.
"That's why I put the hands out and the face is the way it is, all ages understand the pain behind it."
Gian Kaur, of Priorslee, saw the statue for the first time when she visited Southwater on Saturday.
She said: "It's quite emotional. It takes your breath away and the music walking in has added to it."
Sue Hodgson, of Claverley, described the Knife Angel as "unbelievable".
The 47-year-old mother-of-two said: "It's shocking to see the big knives in it and the sheer size of it.
"I think it's certainly going to raise awareness.
"For the children it's a really good visual impact. It's pretty frightening.
"I saw it at the Ironwork Centre but from the road. It looks much more impressive walking up to it and seeing it this close."
Sue Mitchell said it was "amazing" to see in person.
"Hopefully it is going to do something to educate people about it," the 68-year-old said.
"There's been a good turnout even though the weather is not good.
"I've enjoyed watching the Rock Choir, I joined six weeks ago so I've come to support them.
"I think there should be more of these sorts of things because it has brought the crowds here."
Wendy Harvey, of Dawley, said she had seen pictures of the sculpture on Facebook but had the chance to see it in real life at the weekend.
The 52-year-old said: "I think it's a good idea if it stops knife crime. It looks awesome. If kids do get something from it, to not use a knife or carry them, it will be worth it.
"You see it on the TV, stabbings constantly, and for what?"
Kyley Williams, 34, of Hollinswood, said the Knife Angel had an important message.
The mother-of-five said: "I've got two teenagers of my own. It's a good thing to have at this time.
"It's important to raise awareness."
Telford Mayor Stephen Reynolds, was also in the town centre to welcome the arrival of the statue.
Councillor Reynolds said: "It's so important for Telford and for people to recognise the dangers of knife crime, not just in Telford but across the UK.
"The Knife Angel is wonderful. It's so imposing."
Telford & Wrekin Council's deputy leader Richard Overton said: "We are delighted to be bringing the Knife Angel to Telford and to support this campaign.
"Raising awareness of the effects of knife crime is important and we want to play our part in helping to prevent this.
"The message the Knife Angel represents is one of anti-violence and we wanted Telford and Wrekin to be part of this awareness raising national tour."
Superintendent Jim Baker, Telford's local policing commander, has also welcomed the arrival of the statue.
He said: "We have carried out a lot of work in Telford to raise awareness and take positive action around knife crime and are pleased the Knife Angel will compliment this work."
Workshops and other activities have also been arranged to coincide with the sculpture's arrival.
Telford College and University of Wolverhampton will be carrying out sessions based around the statue’s visit, and police will be visiting schools to carry out assemblies.
Angie Astley, Telford & Wrekin Council’s executive director, said: “A lot of people will hopefully come and see it. It will bring communities together. We’ve had huge support from local businesses, community leaders, schools, colleges and faith groups.
“I’m really proud we’ve been allowed to host it. The Knife Angel has been doing a tour and it tends to go to big cities, so for it to come to Telford & Wrekin, we’re delighted to get it.
“It’s an absolutely stunning sculpture made of knifes given in at knife amnesties.
"The face of the knife angel is quite eerie, but it’s stunning, and it weighs four tons, so it’s quite a logistical exercise to get it in place.”
Peter Phythian, managing director of KRL, the company that moved the Knife Angel to Telford, said: “We feel very privileged to be facilitating the move of the Knife Angel. Knife crime has a truly devastating impact on our society, and we feel incredibly fortunate to be in the position to help spread the message of the Save a Life Surrender Your Knife Campaign.
“KRL takes its place in the community very seriously, as a global freight company it is important that we also sometimes focus on matters much closer to home.
"Recent sad events in Telford Town Park make this particular project even more poignant and I hope the timing means maximum exposure for the amazing sculpture and what it represents.
"My team have put a huge amount of effort and time into helping get this here and deserve a lot of credit for another job well done.”
The Knife Angel was transported from Gateshead and craned into place on Friday.
It will stay in Southwater Square until March 29.
Visit telfordknifeangel.com for more information and to find out what events have been planned.