The world’s largest Liver Bird has been unveiled today as Liverpool Shopping Park’s first retailers open their doors.
Standing proud at 11 metres tall, the Liver Bird sculpture is made of fabricated Meccano® pieces in a nod to the area’s history as home of Liverpool-born toy-maker Frank Hornby and the first Meccano factory.
A joint commission by The Derwent Group, Liverpool City Council and Spin Master – global children’s entertainment company and makers of Meccano, the sculpture has been designed by internationally-renowned artist Emma Rodgers, who also designed the new Cilla Black statue on Matthew Street.
The new Liver Bird took more than a year to design and manufacture, used seven tonnes of steel and involved more than 1000 hours of metalworking. Craned into position earlier this week, the new Liver Bird is expected to be a popular landmark for the local community.
The Bird’s unveiling comes as Liverpool Shopping Park’s first retailers open their doors and marks the start of a six-month period of ongoing store openings at the £100m development. Stores at the park will include H&M, Outfit, JD Sports, Smyths Toys, Boots and many more. Work is already underway on phase two, which will include Hollywood Bowl, a multi-screen cinema and a whole host of food and beverage operators, ready for an Autumn 2018 opening. The park is expected to be the UK’s largest shopping park once complete at 727,000 sq ft and will create 3000 jobs.
Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said: “Liverpool Shopping Park is a vital part of the wider regeneration of Edge Lane which includes the multi-billion pound Knowledge Quarter scheme. I’m delighted that the Derwent Group have chosen to mark the opening of this scheme by fusing the symbol of the city with Meccano – it’s a creative nod both to the heritage of the area and our ambition to attract new investment, new businesses and new jobs to secure a brighter future for Liverpool.”
David Lyons, chief executive of The Derwent Group which transformed the former Edge Lane Retail Park into Liverpool Shopping Park, said: “We’re delighted that we can celebrate our progress at Liverpool Shopping Park with such a wonderful, apt and creative piece of public art for the benefit of the local community. There’s hundreds of Liver Birds across the city but it’s a real privilege to say that we have one of our own, and the world’s largest, here at Liverpool Shopping Park. It’s also very fitting as the statue is made of Meccano and it stands on the site of the first Meccano factory. We’re expecting a lot of interest and think it makes the perfect backdrop for a Liverpool selfie.”
Jo Thompson, project manager from Spin Master said: “We are absolutely thrilled to play such a monumental and fitting role in this fantastic new retail venture. Meccano and its founder Frank Hornby have an enormous history of contribution to the city and community particularly around Edge Lane and having this history preserved until time immemorial with the Liver Bird sculpture marks the next exciting chapter. Spin Master would like to offer thanks to all who have made this ambitious project happen, especially Andy and the team at Art Fabrications who have done an outstanding job in creating such a magnificent piece of structural art whilst enjoying re-living their childhood Meccano days in large scale!”
Wirral-born Emma Rodgers, isn’t new to Meccano or the Liver Bird. She said: “I’ve a number of Liver Birds for the city, including a copper-beaten Liver Bird which stands at the entrance to Mayor Joe Anderson’s office, shields featuring the Bird for Liverpool Football Club and the ‘You’ll never walk alone’ awarded to Steven Gerrard. As an Honorary Fellow of LJMU, I also created a Liver Bird which is featured as part of their graduation ceremonies and a smaller statuette which is gifted to all Roscoe Lecturers, but this is certainly the largest and most ambitious public Liver Bird sculpture yet. I played with Meccano as a child and it’s been wonderful to work with it again, only this time with a much larger end-product in mind.”
Andy Langley of Art Fabrications, which worked alongside designer Emma to create and build the bird added: “It’s been an intense project but this commission has been as absolute delight to be involved with. All our staff and subcontractors have come together and worked really hard as a unit to make this incredible sculpture and we all hope that people will enjoy it for years to come.”