Could A14 sculpture put Huntingdonshire on the map?

THE new A14 needs its very own Angel of the North icon to help put Huntingdonshire on the map, according to one Hunts Post reader. John Wilkins, who lives in Somersham, wants to see a 15 to 20 metre-high sculpture by the new River Great Ouse viaduct when

THE new A14 needs its very own Angel of the North icon to help put Huntingdonshire on the map, according to one Hunts Post reader.

John Wilkins, who lives in Somersham, wants to see a 15 to 20 metre-high sculpture by the new River Great Ouse viaduct when it is finally built.

He believes the height of the embankment would make such a piece of artwork visible for about two miles and could be viewed by motorists, boaters and train passengers.

"East Anglia as a region suffers from an identity problem," said Mr Wilkins, 68.

"Owing to the complete lack of any geographical feature such as a mountain, valley or waterfall, there is nothing which an outsider could use to identify the region.

"Many localities have used the creation of a monument or structure to 'brand' themselves with something that can be a marketing tool."

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The former army man said that the Eiffel Tower, Statue of Liberty, Angel of the North and Millau Bridge are all examples of designs or sculptures identifying a region.

"There's nothing to identify East Anglia. People who drive here from London or come from the north haven't got a clue where they are. Most people are just passing through.

"Everyone knows about the Angel of the North and the statement that it makes about where you are.

"In my opinion we want something that can be branded as saying 'this is East Anglia.'

"It might be difficult to get funding though as it would have to come from someone with a local interest."

Mr Wilkins said the M11 joining the A14 would be the only other viable place to have a statue, but the nature of the road would make having it there a safety hazard.

Last year there was a competition for people to design an icon along the A55 and A487 by Holyhead in north Wales, where a competition was held and professionals helped with the design

"It doesn't need to be done by professionals, even a schoolchild could draw something that could be made. The pillars that support the bridge could just be carved into a figure of made to look pretty."

He wants to get a design competition launched so that when the plans for the bridge are finalised in two years the Highways Agency can accommodate the structure within the budget and plans.

He suggested a variety of ideas that could be made, including statues of Huntingdon's Oliver Cromwell, a DNA strand looping over the bridge (Francis Crick discovered DNA in Cambridge), Greek-style caryatids and telamon columns, and even Liquorice Allsorts characters Bertie and Gladys Basset at each end of the bridge.

District Councillor Barbara Boddington, whose ward would house the new viaduct, said that she thought it would be "a good idea".

"As long as it doesn't distract the drivers then it's probably a good idea to have something. An Angel of the North would be rather imposing but I think some sort of sculpture to promote the area would be a good idea."

A spokesman for the East of England Arts Council said around 50 per cent of the applications they receive are successful, so a design could well be eligible for funding.

"If people wanted it and it was a popular public design this would certainly strengthen the application. The visibility of such a design could also be an important factor in determining whether or not it gets the go ahead."

The Arts Council receives money from the National Lottery and the Government to fund public projects, but they cap the amount they grant each project at £200,000.

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