New sculptures to celebrate Bideford’s heritage have been unveiled on their lofty perches in Cooper Street.

Gathering in Bideford for the official unveiling of the new Cooper Street sculptures. Picture: Tony GussinGathering in Bideford for the official unveiling of the new Cooper Street sculptures. Picture: Tony Gussin

The artworks have been created by Bill and Peach Shaw from Northam for a long-awaited project led by Bideford Town Council.

The steel, copper and brass sculptures are of a cooper making barrels and one depicting a merchant and have been placed high on buildings to look down at passers-by.

They have been funded by Rob and Graham Braddick and the town council, with two more planned after funding was secured from Torridge District Council.

They celebrate an area of Bideford that has been a hive of activity for centuries and continues to be a busy area with a variety of shops and businesses.

The idea to first do something with Cooper Street was first touted by Councillor Steve Clarke back in 2008.

The project to make the sculptures a reality was overseen by three mayors - Doug Bushby, Dermot Mcgeough and Peter Christie, who all gathered there on Wednesday, September 25 to mark the unveiling, along with Rob Braddick, the artists and guests.

Mr Christie said he was thrilled to see the sculptures sitting in pride of place. He said: "They really add to the street furniture of our historic town.

"It's nice to have that link with the past in the form of modern sculpture - towns that lose touch with their past have no future."

Rob Braddick with one of the new Cooper Street sculptures in Bideford. Mr Braddick sponsored the scupture of a cooper at the bottom of the street. Picture: Tony GussinRob Braddick with one of the new Cooper Street sculptures in Bideford. Mr Braddick sponsored the scupture of a cooper at the bottom of the street. Picture: Tony Gussin

Mr Braddick said his family had strong links with Cooper Street - his great great grandfather John Joseph Braddick lived there and had a butchers shop plus a slaughterhouse where Crabby Dicks is now.

He said: "So the Braddicks have a connection going back to 1885 and it's just nice to do things for the street you love and the town you love."

Mr Mcgeough added: "It brightens Cooper Street up and shows the important heritage links that we need to promote and encourage visitors to our town.

"Former Torridge leader Jane Whittaker was also involved in the project and one of her last acts before stepping down was to help secure funding for two more sculptures."

The next sculptures are likely to be created next year and will continue the heritage theme by depicting a fisherman and Sir Richard Grenville.