Cycle route’s public art will depict local people

A NEW piece of public art is to be unveiled in Bedlington next weekend.

A portrait bench inspired by the community will be revealed on Saturday September 10 in Gallagher Park alongside a new traffic-free cycling route.

To mark the occasion a number of stalls and activities will be available to take part in, including woodland crafts, a treasure hunt and a bicycle-powered smoothie maker.

Dr Bike will also be on hand to help check bikes and make sure all the family can take advantage of the new routes on offer during the event, which runs from noon to 3pm.

Bryn Dowson, regional director of charity Sustrans said: “We’re delighted to be unveiling the portrait bench, which will add some extra intrigue to the new routes.

“Public artwork helps to make our routes more attractive and interesting, and everyone enjoys getting out on their bikes much more when they enjoy the environment around them.

“Bedlington residents have chosen a selection of characters that show a real mix of the history of the town and will be a fantastic reminder to future generations about the area.”

The portrait features Dr John Brown, a local GP who gave up much of his time voluntarily helping the town’s mining community, teaching miners first aid and often heading into the mine himself to treat injured workers.

It also includes Daniel Gooch, who grew up in Bedlington and learnt his trade at the town’s ironworks before working for Brunel and designed many steam engines, including the Great Western, and Mary Weightman, who founded the local People’s Animal Welfare Service (PAWS) charity, which is still active in the town today.

After retiring from day-to-day running of the charity, Mary actively continued to fundraise for the efforts to help animals in the area.

The Barnesbury Cycle Club will be leading their Saturday ride following the unveiling, the approximately 20-mile ride is open to non-members, although you must be over 12 years of age.

The new routes are part of a national project creating new walking and cycling links in the heart of communities across the UK, allowing people to make their everyday journeys to work, school or the shops safely and easily without having to rely on a car.

The national project received £50m from the Big Lottery Fund, and other funding for the Bedlington scheme has come from Northumberland County Council.