Chorley Pals Memorial
Overlooking the Flat Iron car park stands the Chorley Pals Memorial. Unveiled in 2010, the statue depicts one of the soldiers who went to fight during WWI, holding his rifle and looking determined. The battalion first headed out to Egypt in 1914, spending two months on the Suez Canal before they embarked for France. 175 Chorley Pals were known to be in the trenches in Serre on a day where 34 men were killed and 59 were wounded.
Band of Brothers
These wicker men strewn about Chorley town centre were erected in 2014 as part of an initiative by Chorley In Bloom. Chorley Council installed the soldiers along Union Street to commemorate those who lost their lives throughout WWI, while roundabouts along the bypass depict historically important scenes in Chorley’s past. On Chorley Interchange, for example, you’ll find wicker sculptures highlighting the progression of cycling in the town as a tribute to Eccleston resident Bradley Wiggins. Bolton Street’s installation celebrates Chorley FC’s longstanding association with the town, while Commercial Road is a nod to Chorley’s status as a market town.
In Astley Park you’ll find The Messenger in quiet reflection on his stone bench. This WWI soldier – who likely would have carried messages between trenches – is carved from a large quarried block of stone with the poem ‘A Letter to Daddy’ inscribed nearby. Written by a young mill worker from Chorley, the poem was to the little girl’s father who was serving in the Great War. He sits in the new Garden of Reflection, with flooring constructed from a material similar to the duck boards found in the trenches of the time.
Chorley-born designer John Everiss created the Evader’s Garden in 2015, when it was moved to its home at Astley Hall after being entered into the Chelsea Flower Show. The display depicts a broken brick wall and stained glass window, with a WWII airman poised to look out of it, and is constructed from reclaimed materials found in Chorley Council depots. Inscribed on a nearby tombstone is Leo Marks’ poem ‘The Life That I Have’, which was used to encrypt messages by spies in occupied Europe.
The memorial commemorates British escapees from France and the French civilians who risked their lives to help the Allies – John’s father Stan was a pilot during the war, shot down over France in April 1943. Members of the French Resistance saved his life and helped him cross the escape line, eventually being repatriated in June that year. The names of some of the people who helped Stan are inscribed on the bricks of the church wall in the Evader’s Garden, many of whom were dead by 1945.
Scattered about Astley Village are three nature-themed sculptures – a 3.5 metre oak totem pole depicting the life cycle of frogs, a bench inspired by ferns, and a steel dragonfly hovering over the pond. Created by artist Stephen Charnock, the artwork was part of a scheme to improve the pathways and open areas around the village, getting local schools involved in the creation process.
Astley Hall’s Sensory Garden was first created in 1953 for use by blind servicemen who’d fought in the war. It was known as the ‘blind garden’, and featured plants with rich scents and textures.
Sculptor Thompson Dagnall got involved in creating the Astley Mole – an animal known for its diminished vision and heightened senses – to nestle in the garden. Ivy benches carved from oak logs have been specially sculpted so that your hands fall to the texture as you sit down. The garden truly is a feast for the senses.
Hidden in the leafy canopy of Astley Park’s Walled Garden is the statue of Benjamin Disraeli, Conservative Prime Minister of Britain during the 19th century. His statue was erected in Chorley town centre in 1886 by the Primrose League.
Tree Spirit Trail
Cuerden Valley Park is home to a series of carved tree stumps (and a friendly wooden owl) that make up the tree spirit trail – see how many you can spot! While you’re there, keep an eye out for Thompson Dagnall’s Green Man; an expressive face peeks out of a hollow in a tree close to the main car park. Rather than being carved out of the tree, the face is actually carved from the inside – walk around and you’ll see an ear and the back of the head poking out!
Eaves Green Dinosaur
Yep, you read that correctly – there’s a dinosaur lurking about in Eaves Green. Carved from sandstone by artist Thompson Dagnall, the dino was installed along with the new housing estate in the area and can be found off Lower Burgh Way, on the entrance to Yew Tree Close.
Dagnall’s sculpture harks back to when the area was mostly red sandstone and dinosaurs would have been a regular sight – that is, if there were any humans around to witness them.
Nearby, another piece of sandstone depicts an ape’s transformation into civilised man, clutching both a club and an umbrella. A buzzard – a regular visitor to the nearby Yarrow Valley Country Park – can also be spotted hunched over a meal, or ‘mantling’ to use the technical term.
Here you’ll also find a portrait of Chorley local and founder of one of the first colonies in the USA Myles Standish, founder of the Plymouth Colony in America, carved into a large piece of stone. In the same rock is a Davy lamp to commemorate Chorley’s historic mining ties.
Bobby the Iron Horse
This 15 foot high iron horse can be found on the Longmeanygate roundabout, pulling his cart from builders merchant C&W Berry in Leyland. Constructed in 2017 from recycled materials and filled with old horseshoes, Bobby is hailed as a symbol of Leyland’s strength, dedication and resilience as a market town. Draught horses like him were used to haul goods after the introduction of the railways, often passing from the station goods yard to the final customer.
Now approximately 4000 vehicles pass Bobby each day.
Over in Leyland you’ll find the statues of two Leyland Motors workers. The first, at the entrance to Leyland Market, was reconstructed from a genuine 1920s photograph of a man leaving the site smoking a pipe after a hard day at work. An appeal was launched to find the identity of the man in 2011 and he was tentatively identified as Walt Barnes, although this has not been confirmed.
Leyland Motors made lorries, buses and trolleybuses, and began operation in 1896 as the Lancashire Steam Motor Company. A Morrisons now stands on the site of the old factory, with a second statue commemorating its colourful heritage. Surrounded by trees, you’ll find a man hard at work pouring paint into Leyland’s town logo.
The Green Man
Chorley’s answer to the Angel of the North stands just outside Buckshaw Village, welcoming people to the area. The sculpture, made from tubular steel and fibreglass, was constructed back in 2005 and stands at 9 metres tall. The green sculpture was created to pay homage to the surrounding countryside, celebrating the eco future of the borough.
It was originally hoped that the metallic structure would be transformed by creeping vines, but unfortunately the plants only managed to wrap around his legs.
A brand new wicker cannon now stands on the first roundabout in Euxton as a tribute to ROF Chorley, a munitions factory supplying ammunition for weaponry in WWII. After the war the factory, along with ROF Bridgend, replaced the Royal Filling Factory in Woolwich and remained open until 2007. The site is now home to Buckshaw Village.