Thomas Telford (1757-1834), who the town is named after, was one of the key figures in the British industrial revolution. In 1787, he was appointed the Surveyor of Public Works for Shropshire and had a huge impact on the county’s infrastructure and architecture.
In April 1988, a 3m high and 8m wide sculpture of the great man was unveiled in Telford Square as a tribute to the town’s namesake. Cast in bronze and iron, the sculpture by Andre Wallace shows the figure of Thomas Telford in waistcoat, shirt and trousers learning over the letter ‘o’ in Telford, holding a top hat in his hands, with his coat hanging on the letter ‘d’.
When it was first unveiled, the bronze and iron statue was painted. The letters ‘T’ and ‘l’ and the full stop at the end were painted black and edged in light grey. The letters ‘e’, ‘f’ ‘o’, ‘r’ and ‘d’ were reversed; painted light grey and edged in black. Thomas Telford and his coat were also painted black. The weather has, however, taken its toll over the last 30 years, stripping away all traces of the original paintwork.
Work to clean up the statue and surrounding area has now started.
Specialist contractors are using a power washer to wash away the grime that has built up over time.
Once cleaned up, the statue will be restored to its former glory and painted in black and grey, as it was on the day of its unveiling. The block paving and brickwork around the statue will also be rejuvenated.
One of the most important parts of the 50th celebrations is the investment in legacy projects that improve the borough for residents and visitors.
The work on Telford Square is being funded from the £2m Telford 50 Legacy Fund.
Last summer, Telford & Wrekin Council asked people what legacy projects they would like to see happen during the anniversary year.
Almost 1,400 people took part in the consultation and the most popular themes to emerge were heritage and tourism, arts and culture, and recreation.
Many people also said they would like to see Telford Square spruced up as the area was looking tired and the statue a little weather-worn.
Part of the issue with looking after the area has been that it has a number of different landowners.
As the square provides an oasis away from the hubbub of the town centre and the much loved sculpture is part of the town’s heritage, Telford 50 legacy funding in the region of £100k has been set aside to improve the area and clean up the sculpture.
The work starts towards End May 2018 and will include:
The whole project is expected to take up to eight weeks to complete.