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I stepped on the beach and knew it was the perfect site

Its ten years this month since Antony Gormley’s Another Place arrived in Sefton.

In the second of two special articles to mark the anniversary, the Champion looks back at the installation and launch of the sculptures, and the reception the Iron Men received.

WHEN Antony Gormley visited Crosby beach for the first time and gave his approval to his Another Place sculptures being installed there, it was a major step forward for the project.

However, this was just the first of many consents that South Sefton Development Trust (now known as Regenerus) needed to obtain before the Iron Men could take up residence in south Sefton.

Regenerus chief executive Cate Murphy, who was in charge of the Another Place project, recalls: “We held more than 30 consultation meetings with residents’ organisations, user groups, safety bodies and environmental agencies, and commissioned surveys on the impact the artwork would have on the coastline and on bird life.

“Most problematic of all was our application to the Government for a Marine Consent Licence to install 100 large immovable metal objects in a busy river!”

Eventually, after many meetings, the coastguards were satisfied that the project was safe, given that an exclusion zone was established to keep waterborne craft away from the installation site.

And, remarkably, by early summer 2005, all the necessary permissions and approvals were in place.  This had taken just seven months, a process that had taken up to four years at the previous locations of the artwork.

Next came the task of actually installing the figures. Because of their previous experience of working on Another Place in Germany in 1997 and Belgium in 2003, the jobs was given to a German company, Harms Brunnenbau.

The statues arrived from storage in Halifax on a low loader on Monday June 15, 2005 – surely one of the most unusual contents of a lorry ever to cross the Pennines.

They were placed in a compound in the car park of Crosby Leisure Centre – which became an attraction itself – and the German crew of five men then had less than three weeks to fix them in position on the beach on three – metre – high foundation piles.

Despite the fact that the ream said Crosby was the coldest and windiest beach they had every worked on, the Iron Men were all safely in place by July 1, the date of the official launch.

Guests at the event heard Antony Gormley praise the new location for his artwork: “This is a fantastic beach.  From the moment I stepped on it I knew it was going to be great.

“It’s the most exciting and dynamic site that the sculptures have ever been installed on.

“This is another place, whose place, anyone’s place, everyone’s place.

“It’s remarkable that people of all ages seem to be able to have their own relationship with the work.”

Most people – from art critics to local dog walkers – agreed.

So much so, that instead of the sculptures being moved to New York in late 2006, a campaign was organised to keep them in Sefton.

The campaign proved to be an outstanding success, which is why this month we can all raise our galasses and sat happy tenth anniversary to Crosby’s Iconic Iron Men.