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Half-size Skylon mooted for Herefordshire

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Plans to build a 50 metre-tall Skylon replica near Hereford have emerged

The sculpture would be used at the entrance to Hereford’s proposed Local Enterprise Zone – which is likely to be called Skylon Park.

Hereford-based RAA Architecture has designed the structure. A competition has also been launched to find a masterplanner for the 66 hectare former munitions factory site.

The original cigar-shaped 100-metre tall Skylon, designed by Powell and Moya, was built in Hereford by engineering firm Painter Bros.

The iconic structure was centrepiece of the 1951 Festival of Britain on London’s Southbank and has been the subject of an architect-led campaign for its resurrection in recent years.

A possible move to the Olympic park was scotched two years ago after London mayor Boris Johnson confirmed there were ‘no plans to re-build the Skylon’ while unveiling images of Anish Kapoor’s ArcelorMittal Orbit.

Former RIBA president Jack Pringle – who campaigned to restore the Skylon to London – wished the project ‘good luck’.

He said: ‘Anything that burnishes the Skylon’s reputation is a good thing. My understanding is that this is the launch of a design competition for a new “vertical feature” half the size of the Skylon but embodying its values.’

Neil Kerr, Hereford Business Board chair and vice-chairman of the Enterprise Zone Board said: ‘When it was built, the Skylon represented a futuristic symbol of the hopes and aspirations of the nation. It depicted in visual form the optimism and confidence of a future using cutting-edge technologies.

‘This is what the new Enterprise Zone represents and we believe the image of the Skylon is a fitting tribute which reflects the county’s proud engineering tradition while symbolising the modern hi-technology businesses and their ambition, innovation and drive they will bring to the Enterprise Zone.

‘Using modern technology we’re proposing to create a new 48m tall Skylon which will mark the entrance to the new Enterprise Zone. This will be a bold statement of intent and will be matched by the high design standards and sustainability we expect from the architects behind the buildings which will be constructed on the site.

‘We’re now launching a design competition to invite architects to be part of this great project.’

‘This is only a concept we’re working with at this stage, but the potential is huge. This will put the Enterprise Zone on the map and would be an inspiration to the world class leading technology and communication businesses we are attracting to the site.

‘We propose to name the new business park Skylon Park. There are 21 Enterprise Zones in the UK and we must stand out from the rest. Once we have concluded a detailed feasibility study, we will be looking for a company, or companies, to sponsor the construction, so there will be no cost to the ratepayer.’

Councillor Roger Phillips, Herefordshire council’s cabinet member for enterprise and culture, said: ‘In its day, the Skylon was a feat of engineering at the cutting edge of manufacturing technology. It’s this same spirit of innovation, ambition and courage we hope to see on the Enterprise Zone.

‘We’re aiming to attract businesses specialising in activities linked to the defence, security and science-based industries onto the site so the Skylon is the perfect choice, particularly as it was made locally and reflects the same values now as when it was constructed.’

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Dear Sir, I wrote to you in favour of the Skylon project when it was mooted for the Olympic Park. At that time I did not know that the original had been constructed by a Hereford company.
    I would still consider Harlow New Town as a suitable location for such a device, given the town's connection with the Festival of Britain/ Powell & Moya etc. We too are an EZ, and a Skylon would make an appropriate symbol of this, John Curry

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