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Thursday, 18 October, 2001, 06:37 GMT 07:37 UK
Steel men symbolise hope
steel men
The artwork is part of a 9m development
A massive public artwork celebrating Sunderland's industrial heritage has been unveiled.

The sculptures of four 8ft-high steel men pushing giant coals is part of a 9m transformation of the former Wearmouth Colliery site.

Artist Graeme Hopper, from County Durham, created the artwork for the riverside paths which form part of the Coast to Coast (C2C) cycle route

The giant men were devised to pay homage to the hard, physical work of mining at Wearmouth.

'Symbol of hope'

Mr Hopper said: "It's a visually moving piece, in a physical and emotional sense.

"It represents man's social struggle and will to survive against the odds. The figures show purpose and aims, they symbolise hope and achievement."

The figures can be seen in a variety of positions each one hauling a giant coal up the bank to the Stadium of Light, the home of Sunderland Football Club.

The sculptures were commissioned by Regional Development Agency, One NorthEast.

Wearmouth Bridge
The C2C goes past Wearmouth Bridge

John Williams, deputy chairman of One NorthEast said: "In recent years Wearside has suffered great hardships with the closure of Wearmouth Colliery and Vaux Breweries.

"However, Stadium Park is an excellent example of physical and economic development combining with attractive recreational facilities.

"We are confident that it will serve as a symbol to Sunderland's bright and prosperous future."

Mr Hopper has also designed new seating beside the old lime kilns on the site.

He used a mixture of materials reclaimed from the Wearmouth site or traditionally used in coalmining.

The Coast to Coast cycle route covers 135 miles from Whitehaven to Sunderland and now runs directly past the new sculptures on the north bank of the Wear.

The paths were relocated to be incorporated with the revitalisation of the riverbank and are expected to be used by 11,000 people every year.

City of Sunderland councillor Eric Holt said: "The new C2C finish from Washington to Sunderland is ideal for incoming cycle tourists, combining a high quality route with riverside scenery and brilliant art features such as the steel coal miners."


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01 Apr 00 | Europe
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