"The Peacock is still with us and it symbolises community strength for everyone..." George Tapp
Back in the day, the Peacock sculpture which stood outside Ordsall High School for 27 years was a bit of a landmark..."Everyone met at the Peacock, everyone knew it" recalls Thomas Hurst, one of the last pupils at Ordsall High before it closed in 1988.
After the school shut, however, the Peacock flew its roost and no-one knew where it had gone... "Everyone assumed it had been stolen, only years later did we realise where it had gone" says Thomas. Indeed, six years ago, another former Ordsall High pupil, George Tapp, traced it to Salford City College on Frederick Road where it was almost hidden by the bushes near the entrance, unloved and uncared for.
With the support of the Salford Star, which was doing a magazine called Ordsall Undercover with the local community at the time, George and Ordsall Community Arts successfully campaigned for its return to Ordsall – but it couldn't find a home as the managers of potential sites were worried about insurance and it getting nicked for scrap. So, ever since, it has nested in the Ordsall Community Arts warehouse.
Now the Ordsall Peacock has a new permanent home, where it will go on public display, although the location is being kept secret until its unveiling. In the meantime, the sculpture is being restored by artist Noah Rose, as part of a £42,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, which will also include a programme of oral histories, getting local residents to tell their stories of the Peacock, the school and the changing landscape of Ordsall.
Next spring, there will also be an exhibition, film and booklet telling the story of the Peacock's return, and residents will be able to get a free copy of a special booklet commemorating the project.
"I'm absolutely delighted to have been asked to restore this iconic sculpture by a great artist, Gertrude Hermes, whose work has recently come to be reappraised" says Noah "As a sculptor this is a fantastic honour and I'm really looking forward to restoring and re-siting the Peacock. I've been based in Salford for the last twenty years, and have an association with Ordsall Community Arts going back to 1991, so I'm especially pleased to be helping bring the Peacock back to Ordsall."
The Peacock will also be the inspiration for the annual spectacular lantern event, the Lighting The Legend Parade, which this year celebrates its own 25 year anniversary. On Friday 9th November, the Parade goes from Ordsall Library to Ordsall Hall where there will be a community theatre performance, before ending at Ordsall Park with a firework display by Walk The Plank.
The event is being organised by Ordsall Community Arts (OCA) which also celebrates an amazing forty years of working within the local community... "OCA are thrilled that our 25th Lighting the Legend, will kick-start this project on the Peacock, and bring it back for the community and wider public to enjoy for future generations to come" says Gail Skelly, Project Manager and main force behind some top arts created by OCA over the years.
Once sited, local school children will be invited to take part in two special art projects inspired by the Peacock, as the birdie takes on a new significance for a new generation...
"So much of Ordsall was demolished in the 1960s" says George Tapp "but the Peacock is still with us and it symbolises community strength for everyone..."
The Lighting The Legend Lantern Parade takes place on Friday 9th November setting off from Ordsall Library/Ordsall Neighbourhood Office (M5 3LT) at 6.30pm
The firework display will take place around 7:30pm in Ordsall Park.
There is also a GoFundMe page to pay for the fireworks and lanterns - donate by clicking here