Stone sculptures line walking route

Natterjack toad sculpture
Natterjack toad sculpture
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THE first 12 sculptures have been installed on a new path aimed at encouraging walking and cycling in Hampshire.

Intricate stone carvings have been installed at Southsea, on the Hayling Billy trail, in Rowlands Castle, at the Buriton chalk pits, Queen Elizabeth Country Park, Petersfield, Steep, Broxhead Common, Liss Railway Walk and Bordon Inclosure.

The sculptures, created by artist Richard Perry after consultation with local community groups, tell the story of the landscape, representing the important geographic, historical and natural features of the area.

In total there will be 20 sculptures along the Shipwrights Way from Alice Holt Forest in the north to the Historic Dockyard in Portsmouth to the south, with the remaining eight due to be installed towards the end of March.

The path follows the route that was taken to transport timber to build ships, including HMS Victory.

The sculptures have been funded by East Hampshire District Council through developers’ contributions, South Downs National Park Authority’s Sustainable Communities Fund and Hampshire County Council Arts funding.

Ken Carter, a councillor for East Hampshire and a member of the Shipwrights Way Steering Group, said: ‘These sculptures are a unique feature of the Shipwrights Way and will encourage visitors to the area.

‘I hope they will also prove to be a matter of local pride, particularly for those groups who contributed their ideas during the design process.’

Andrew Lee, director of strategy and partnerships for the South Downs National Park, said: ‘It’s wonderful to see the first of Richard Perry’s sculptures in their new home, celebrating the thoughts and ideas of local communities along the Shipwrights Way.

‘I am sure that they will add an exciting and inspiring new dimension for people exploring this part of the South Downs National Park.’

The 12 sculptures installed are:-

Southsea - Cockleshell

The 12 brave Royal Marines whose daring and dramatic raid on German shipping led to them later becoming known as the ‘Cockleshell Heroes’ had their headquarters at what is now the Rose Gardens, where this sculpture will be sited. Their nickname came from the type of two-man canoe they used – the “Cockle Mark 2”. Crossing the channel inside Royal Navy submarine HMS Tuna, the men and canoes, filled with equipment and supplies, launched themselves near the French coast and canoed almost 100 miles behind enemy lines to attack and sink ships supplying vital cargo to the Germans.

Hayling Kench - Brent Goose

The Solent supports over 10% of the world’s population of Dark-bellied Brent Geese in wintertime. In the background of the sculpture is a mooring block for a ‘Mulberry Harbour’, a portable concrete structure developed in WW2 to enable rapid off-loading of cargo onto the beaches during the allied invasion of Normandy. They were built here on Hayling, from gravel dug here, and one can still be seen near the ferry point.

Hayling Billy South - Little Tern

Langstone Harbour sees around half of the south coast’s breeding population of little tern; The shape of the wings in this sculpture deliberately resembles a sail because windsurfing was invented on Hayling Island in 1958 by local boy Peter Chilvers, at the age of 12!

Hayling Billy North - oyster

Oysters have been fished on the Hayling as long ago as Roman times. The oysters were actively farmed between as early as 1819 until the 1970s. Oysters became a delicacy that was exported throughout the country under the classification of “Emsworth Oysters”.

Rowlands Castle - Shepherd’s Crown

This flint cast of a sea urchin is known as a Shepherd’s Crown, named because the five rays converging on the apex resemble the ribs of a crown. They were often found by shepherds caring for their flock on these chalk downlands.

Buriton chalk pits - Cheese Snail

Chalk has been quarried from the South Downs for hundreds of years. Although there are references to chalk being raised from the Buriton hills and taken to Portsmouth early in the nineteenth century, it is believed that BJ Forder commenced large-scale quarrying and established a limeworks in about 1860. The Chalk Pit nature reserve is home to the rare Cheese Snail.

Queen Elizabeth Country Park viewpoint - sheep

A Hampshire Down sheep, reflecting the long history of grazing on the downs

Petersfield - woolpack

The prosperity of Petersfield was based on the wool trade. The fleeces of sheep raised in the surrounding countryside were used for weaving cloth, which would be cleaned and thickened by fulling. In the reign of James 1 (1603-1625) it was said that that the wool industry in Petersfield supported 1,000 poor people in the area, who lived by weaving. Most of these weavers would have lived in surrounding villages rather than in the town itself. Merchants would take them the raw wool by packhorse and collect the woven cloth. (From ‘A History of Petersfield’ by Tim Lambert)

Steep - books

Carving of books to refer to the literary and theatrical achievements of Steep’s well known residents, with the 3 names carved into the spines of the books: Edward Thomas, war poet; John Wyndham, author; and Sir Alec Guinness, actor.

Liss railway - trout

The Liss Railway Walk borders the Rivers Rother and Blackwater, and brown trout can be seen, although not as frequently as in the past.

Bordon Inclosure – Natterjack Toad

Whitehill is the only parish in the UK to claim home to all 12 native amphibians and reptiles, including the natterjack toad

Broxhead - Nightjar

Broxhead Common is an important site locally for breeding heathland birds including the nightjar - one of three bird species given special protection under European legislation