Bobby makes his big entrance

Leylanders woke up to a surprise on Friday morning – in the form of a brand new piece of public art.

“Bobby the Iron Horse” is the latest gateway feature installed by South Ribble Borough Council, to celebrate Leyland’s proud heritage, and welcome visitors to the town.

Towering at 15ft high, Bobby was craned in under the cover of darkness late on Thursday night.

“He looks magnificent, and locals already seem to have taken a shine to him,” said Councillor Phil Smith, cabinet member for regeneration and leisure.

“I’ve had many people get in touch to say how much they love him. In fact, I can’t think of anything we’ve done that has received such positive feedback in such a short space of time.

“We were able to deliver this project thanks to the Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal.”

Bobby was driven down the motorway on a low-loader trailer in the pouring rain on Thursday evening. He travelled from DP Structures, in Nelson in East Lancashire, where he had been lovingly crafted by fabricator Dave Palmer over the last three months having worked with the council’s Regeneration Team on the design.

As crowds gathered, the huge horse was lifted into place on an area of grassland, just off the roundabout connecting Schleswig Way and Longmeanygate.

“Bobby is the biggest and best piece I’ve ever done for South Ribble,” said Dave Palmer.

“He was made using stainless steel, COR-TEN and brass, with horse shoes inside. He was so tall that we had to add the mane and ears on-site otherwise he wouldn’t have fit under the motorway bridges!”

Locals have already taken Bobby to their hearts – with him being voted the town’s best gateway feature in a Facebook poll – and with the council’s social media post announcing his arrival being seen by more than 27,000 people!

Bobby joins the Centurion Tank, Norma the Fire Engine and William the Vintage Tractor as the town’s latest gateway feature.

Bobby the Iron Horse was funded by the Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal, a £430m investment in central Lancashire, which will bring thousands of new jobs, homes and road improvements over 10 years.

The project was also supported by C & W Berry and Ulnes Walton Bridleways Association.

There will be an official unveiling ceremony at the beginning of November, when the surrounding area has been landscaped.