By the slipway at Knott End, a sculpture commemorates L.S. Lowry’s visits to the town. It has become a popular focal point for visitors, with people posing by it for photographs or sitting on nearby benches and enjoying it as they look out towards Fleetwood.
Lowry came to Knott End frequently in the 1940s and 1950s. He stayed at boarding houses on the sea front and became a familiar figure to the locals. They would observe him making sketches on whatever he had to hand. Hotel note paper, old receipts, napkins, envelopes and even toilet paper would be put to good use as he drew the landscapes and the people within them.
As well as Knott End, Lowry had other favourite haunts in the area. He also frequented Over Wyre and Lytham St Annes. The latter he used to visit as a young man with his parents. He returned on his own in later days, sketching the yachts and the pier and creating some of his better known non-industrial paintings.
At least three pictures are known from his time at Knott End. He first made a large pencil sketch known as The Ferry Slip at Knott End on Sea (1953) (view it on Christie’s website here). Using his trademark five colour palette of oil paints, he then created The Lunevale (1954) (on artnet website here). Three years later, he produced The Jetty at Knott End, near Fleetwood (1957) (on amazon here).
Although there are statues of the man himself in Mottram and Manchester, there were none anywhere of his trademark ‘matchstick’ figures. In 2010, a petition to commemorate his visits and paintings circulated in Knott End. Four years later, a ‘Shape Your Neighbourhood’ grant was awarded by Preesall Town Council and Wyre Council of £5000 to fund a sculpture.
The money was used to create the stainless steel figures of a man and a dog. They were made by the apprentices at the WEC Group at a training academy in Darwen. Tom Elliot, divisional manager at the M-tec arm of the WEC Group, oversaw the project. M-tec specialises in architectural metal work fabrication and has produced other distinctive sculptures in Lancashire. These include the Spitfire at Darwen, the Braid at Blackburn and the Seed in Manchester. You can see more of their work here.
For the Knott End sculpture, figures were taken from the original painting of The Jetty at Knott End. To create the man, his left and right sides were first laser cut out of a metal sheet. They were joined together with a 120 mm stainless steel band around the inside, to give the impression of a three dimensional shape. The apprentices then welded extra layers on to produce the coat, arms and his hat. All the welds were then dressed and polished.
The sculpture was unveiled on 11th September 2015. Reminiscent of the sketch and paintings, the man and dog look like they are striding out to catch the Fleetwood ferry.
Site visited by A. and S. Bowden 2020
The site is open access. There is free parking behind the ice cream shop and café by the jetty. The sculpture is just in front of the café.