Ruari helps Victor takes his place in St Helens park

A ferocious tiger has been spotted in Victoria Park as a new sculpture was unveiled and named by local school children earlier this week.

Thursday, 15th July 2021, 2:25 pm
Updated Thursday, 15th July 2021, 2:28 pm
Mayor of St Helens Coun Sue Murphy with Ruari Cross at the new sculpture

Victor the Tiger was named by competition winners St Thomas of Canterbury Primary School, and now crouches in wait to greet visitors to the park at St Mark's Gate Lodge with bared teeth, on the corner of North Road and Rutland Street.

The competition, arranged by St Helens Borough Council’s Parks, Landscape and Street Scene Service, was open to children at four primary schools in the area – St Thomas of Canterbury, Rivington, Bleak Hill and Parish primary schools.

Nominations were shortlisted by teachers at each of the participating schools and the eight finalists considered by Friends of Victoria Park who decided the final winner.

From left to right Windle Coun Mancyia Uddin, Conor McGinn MP, Coun Andy Bowden, Mayor of St Helens Coun Sue Murphy, Council Leader and Windle Coun David Baines, Windle Coun Lynne Clarke and Diane Tabbern of the Friends group, with competition finalists

The winning nomination was proposed by Year 1 pupil Ruari Cross, who received a £45 Smyths voucher.

There were also prize bundles for all eight finalists sponsored by the Friends group, St Helens Borough Council and Smyths St Helens, with a cuddly tiger, Victoria Park water bottle and bag, plus a football for every child.

The new sculpture sits at approximately 1.7m high and replaces the old ‘drumming tiger’, who had rested by Victoria Park’s bandstand since 2014 before falling victim to repeated incidents of vandalism.

The original artwork by local sculptor Thomas Dagnall, fashioned from a windfallen tree, was the artist's impression of the Mansion House’s stuffed tiger museum piece which was lost following the sale of the premises to Age UK Mid Mersey in 1990.

Dagnall had worked hard to repair damage done to the drumming tiger in recent years, but at long last decided to let the old cat retire, grown too long in the tooth and damaged beyond repair.

The sculptor began work on Victor last year, and has been eagerly awaiting a time when children at participating schools could come together to see the tiger show his stripes in public for the first time, and bestow his name.

The Grade II listed Gate Lodge will hopefully provide a safe home for Victor for many years to come, being well lit at night, covered by CCTV and close to public roads.

Councillor Andy Bowden, St Helens Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport and Environment, said: “It’s fantastic to see the new artwork finally installed and on display for visitors to see in one of our most beautiful and historic green spaces.

“I want to thank the local school children for taking part in the competition and putting forward such excellent and fitting names – particularly Ruari’s brilliant suggestion – and residents for their continued support of the project. Let’s work together to give Victor a long and happy life here in Victoria Park for future generations to enjoy.”