A new sculpture celebrating nearly 200 years of Purley’s rail heritage is set to be formally unveiled in the town later this month.
The Iron Horse depicts a horse pulling two wagons, which would have been seen on the Croydon, Merstham and Godstone Railway that operated through the town in the early 1800s before its closure in 1838.
The sculpture has been installed in Rotary Field on Brighton Road, where a remnant of the track bed remains. The council commissioned Alan Potter, a Scottish artist who has carried out more than 100 commissions across the UK including neon light installation Light Flight in Hackney, to design the piece.
He also engaged with the community through a series of workshops to paint and decorate models of the sculpture, which references the horse drawn wagons that made up the railway, which was an extension of the Surrey Iron Railway.
Councillor Oliver Lewis, cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport, said: “The Iron Horse is a wonderful way of celebrating and recognising the historical importance Purley played as Britain’s railways developed and I hope lots of residents attend the official unveiling later this month.
“It is an impressive piece of art and adds to the cultural offerings we have across the borough. I hope the sculpture, which reflects on Purley’s past, is something the local community can be proud of both now and in the future.”
Its installation will be celebrated with an official opening on Friday, January 31, when there will be a ribbon cutting ceremony led by Mayor of Croydon, Councillor Humayun Kabir.
The event on the Rotary Field begins at 11.30am and a reception will follow the ceremony in the foyer at nearby Christ Church Purley.
The £30,000 artwork was jointly funded by the council’s regeneration and culture teams and ward councillors through their ward budgets. Introduced in 2015, ward budgets are allocated to every councillor and can be used to support local issues, priorities or projects.