The Mythic Coast Artwork Trail is a collection of outdoor sculptures that take inspiration from a children’s book: The Sea Swallow. Specially commissioned from author Gareth Thompson, with illustrations by Hannah McGee, the book mixes local folklore with stories from the area; it’s based on Singleton Thorpe, a sunken village that’s said to have been submerged off Cleveleys in the 16th century. Characters and motifs from the book are represented in a collection of artworks by North West artist Stephen Broadbent, which range along the Cleveleys seafront and lift the story from the pages, onto the shore.
First is the Sea Swallow, which stands nearly 10m high between the promenade and main high street. This tall, thin, white sheet of coated aluminium has two swallows cut out at the top; their shapes strain free of the metal, leaving their silhouettes in their wake. At the base of the sculpture, the first and last lines of The Sea Swallow are carved into its stone plinth. Further along is the Shipwreck Memorial: this huge piece of oxidised iron commemorates every vessel which ran aground on the Fylde Coast between 1643 and 2008. At the southern end of the promenade, the sculpture’s rusted surface echoes the sunken ships whose names are etched into it. Opposite the Jubilee Leisure Park buildings is an enormous, abandoned oar: carved from tropical hardwood and decorated with scenes from The Sea Swallow, the Giant Ogre’s Paddle measures a monumental 9.2m long.The ogre himself is camouflaged at the extremity of a stone groyne on the beach itself; though originally carved from white stone, the Stone Ogre has grown a green coat of seaweed over time, evidence of his being daily submerged beneath the oncoming tide. He has glowing red eyes but, if you look closely, a surprisingly friendly face. Finally, there’s Mary’s Shell, a spiral-shaped metal sculpture so large that it’s possible to climb inside when the sea’s out. Here, visitors can listen to the sounds of the sea, read the words of The Sea Swallow, and reflect on a trail of outdoor sculptures that has made storytelling a priority.