Accrington Town Centre, Lancashire
Artist: IBI Group
Client: Hyndburn Borough Council & Lancashire County Council
Designer(s): BCA Landscape, Liverpool & Smiling Wolf
Manufacturer: IP Surfaces Ltd
Supplier: Hardscape Products Ltd
Six unique benches made with several specialist processes were installed outside Accrington town hall in 2018. The bespoke designs recount Accrington’s rich and proud history, paying a special tribute to the Accrington Pals, Accrington Stanley FC and the area’s role in the Industrial Revolution.
The project brief brought together several collaborators to fulfil the vision of Hyndburn Borough Council and Lancashire County Council. The councils set out with a vision to create a civic space for events that celebrated Accrington’s Town and Market Halls, as well as commemorate the Accrington Pals.
The updated site features six duckboard benches which were made from horizontal pieces of timber, representing the duckboards on the bottom of a trench. Each of the benches are aligned around six individual granite wall plinths and placed in a band of granite setts running around the edge of the town square. These represent a traditional kerb and an interpretation of the two connected trench lines relating to the battle of the Somme; a touching reference to the Pals and all those who fell in World War One.
Each of the six plinths has different pieces of art which allude to a piece of Accrington history. These include a mixture of historic photographs, quotes and logos, which involved laser-etching, sandblasting and waterjet-cut processes, all produced in-house at IP Surfaces.
The historic photographs were laser-etched, text for the quotes were stencilled and sandblasted to describe the images. Additionally, waterjet-cutting was used to allow for inlaying bronze, which can be seen in the Accrington Stanley FC logo, as well as the armrests.
The feedback from the client has been overwhelming, with the councils particularly impressed with the quality of laser-etched photographs on the side of the benches. The aim was to create a space to further boost economic regeneration in the town centre, and the square will act as a social focal point, which has been deemed successful in neighbouring Lancastrian towns.