Half a million tennis fans will be the first to see the much anticipated Stag sculpture which was unveiled by the Mayor of Merton, Councillor David Williams outside Wimbledon Station on Thursday 21 June.
Thousands of spectators expected to flood through Wimbledon Station over the Championship fortnight from Monday will be greeted by the privately funded Stag as they arrive in the town centre, as well as the thousands of Olympic ticket holders travelling to Wimbledon at the end of July.
The steel sculpture is the final part of the £2.5m Wimbledon town centre improvement project ‘Destination Wimbledon’ funded by Transport for London(TfL) as part of the Mayor of London’s Better Streets Initiative, and Network Rail and South West Trains.
Merton Council has implemented the town centre improvements which include a diagonal pedestrian crossing at the junction of Wimbledon Bridge with Alexandra Road as well as new paving, tree planting and new street furniture such as cycle racks and seating. The new station forecourt completes the improvements and as well as the Stag includes new paving, trees, seating and feature lighting.
The Stag was chosen by the public from a range of designs submitted by local artists and was commissioned and paid for separately from ‘Section 106’ money, contributed by a developer as part of an arts fund for the area. At the event, invited guests, residents and businesses enjoyed dancing from local dance troupe, Dancebites, as well as cakes and coffee provided by local business, Kaldi Coffee, before gathering round to witness the unveiling of the Stag.
Created by local artist Isabelle Southwood, the sculpture measures three metres in height and width and is made from 25mm thick steel designed to withstand all wind and weathers. Stags were once a regular feature on Wimbledon Common during the Iron Age. The stag stands on the station forecourt as if it had wandered down the hill, linking together Wimbledon Town Centre’s heritage and its relationship with the Common.
Mayor of Merton, Councillor David Williams said:” We are proud to welcome the Stag to Wimbledon. We hope he will be as affectionately regarded as the Two Fat Ladies and become an iconic meeting place for years to come.”
Leader of the Council, Councillor Stephen Alambritis said: “As residents of the London Borough of Merton we are blessed to have both urban and rural surroundings on our doorstep. The Stag is the perfect way to remind us that when we have finished our shopping among the hustle and bustle of our vibrant town centre, we can wander up the hill and enjoy the peace and calm of Wimbledon Common.”
The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: ‘The face of London is transforming before our very eyes and I am delighted with the improvements taking place through my Great Outdoors programme. Whether they are new green spaces, town squares or infrastructure improvements, each project is transforming a new corner of London into a better place to use and enjoy. Wimbledon is set to play a starring role during the Games and it’s fantastic the area has been made brighter, cleaner and more welcoming for the thousands of visitors heading to London for this summer like no other.’
Phil Dominey, South West Trains said: “The improvements to Wimbledon station are a fantastic example of the South West Trains and Network Rail alliance’s partnership working with Merton Council and the Department for Transport.”
Paul Windsor from Love Wimbledon the new Business Improvement District said “The completion of the improvement works and the unveiling of a significant public work of art mark the beginning of an investment program, by the Wimbledon business community, to help generate a renewed civic pride in our wonderful town”.
Isabelle Southward, the artist who designed the Stag said: “Many people have asked ‘Why a stag?” It was my aim to link the town and village historically, architecturally and socially – in a way that residents of Wimbledon would be able to recognise, reminding them of the heritage of their town”.
1. Section 106 funding of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 allows a local planning authority to enter into a legally-binding agreement or planning obligation with a landowner in association with the granting of planning permission. It is often used to support the provision of services and infrastructure, such as highways, recreational facilities, education, health and affordable housing.
2. Destination Wimbledon is a £2.5m Wimbledon Town Centre improvement programme funded by TFL (Transport for London), SW Trains and Network Rail. Merton Council was responsible for implementing the town centre improvements. For more information about Destination Wimbledon, please visit: http://www.merton.gov.uk/community-living/destinationwimbledon
3. About Mayor of London’s Great Outdoors ‘London’s Great Outdoors – A Manifesto for Public Space’ is supported by two practical guides, ‘Better Streets’ and ‘Better Green and Water Spaces’. Together they set out the Mayor of London’s vision for improving public spaces in London. This will ensure that London’s streets, squares, parks and green and water spaces are fit for a great world city, are enjoyed by everyone who visits them and most importantly, help improve the quality of life in the capital.
They are accompanied by an implementation plan that will see £355 million invested in over 80 public realm improvement projects between 2009 and 2012 Games, funding for which comes from Transport for London, The London Development Agency and London’s boroughs as well as other sources.
The measures include redesigned streets, which can be shared by both the pedestrians and vehicles and reclaimed derelict green spaces and underused waterways. The manifesto and guides have been written and produced by the Greater London Authority, London Development Agency, Design for London and Transport for London. For further information please go to http://www.london.gov.uk/greatoutdoors