A bronze sculpture of Wallace & Gromit has been officially unveiled in Preston by the animated duo’s creator Nick Park.
Based on the cheese-loving inventor and his loyal companion as they appeared in The Wrong Trousers, the bench sculpture has taken pride of place outside Preston Markets.
Facilitated by Preston City Council, this exciting new addition to the city centre has the backing of Aardman, the Bristol-based studio behind the hugely successful Wallace & Gromit film franchise.
Nick Park was born and raised in Preston and is already an Honorary Freeman of the city. He was joined for the unveiling by Mayor of Preston, Councillor Javed Iqbal.
The event was also attended by Merlin Crossingham, Aardman’s creative director of Wallace & Gromit, as well as local councillors, market traders and local school children.
Mayor of Preston, Councillor Javed Iqbal, said: “It was my pleasure to welcome Nick Park back to Preston to unveil this brilliant bench specially designed for the city, which I am sure will become a favourite spot to visit for residents and visitors for years to come.
“I look forward to seeing the many photographs and selfies taken with the iconic duo over the coming days and weeks. This fun new addition to the city centre is a sight you don’t want to miss.”
The bench is one of five ‘Pop-Up’ projects being delivered through £1million of initial funding Preston received from the government’s national Towns Fund. The Pop-Ups aim to encourage visitors back into the city after the pandemic, driving footfall and supporting the economy.
John Chesworth, chair of the Preston Partnership and the Preston Towns Fund Board, said: “Since we announced the bench was happening, we’ve had positive feedback from across the world. This is a fantastic story for Preston to have someone from the city who has created a global brand to have that success recognised with a sculpture thousands of people will see and interact with every day.”
Commenting on the sculpture when it was first announced in June 2021, Nick Park, said: “It is such a great honour for me, as a proud Prestonian, to see my characters Wallace and Gromit cast in bronze and given pride of place in my hometown.”
Preston was awarded a Town Deal worth a total of £20.9m in March 2021 which will kick-start the Harris Quarter Towns Fund Investment Programme, a £200 million, transformational regeneration programme in Preston’s Harris Quarter, the city’s cultural and civic heart.
Led by Preston Partnership and Preston City Council, the £20.9 million Town Deal is part of the government’s £3.6 billion Towns Fund, established to help level up towns and cities around the country.