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Plans by Stockport Council to demolish the town’s iconic viaduct has provoked a furious response from the region’s artistic community.
The plans announced this week as part of a £275 million regeneration of the town centre include demolishing the brick structure to replace it with a Japanese-style high level suspended train track. There will also be a new football stadium for Stockport County and a 24-screen multiplex cinema.
But the possible loss of the viaduct has led to an outcry from the region’s leading artists who say its demolition will mean that most of them will lose their livelihoods.
Artist Reg Campbell-Barlow, said; “The viaduct is Northern Art, without it we have no inspiration. Art is important to the north and the viaduct is important to art.”
Around 400 regional artists have already signed an online petition calling for the council to think again about a structure which has featured in the paintings of artists such as L S Lowry and William Turner.
Susan Eyres, a director of Cheshire’s Gateway Gallery, said the demolition would hit the northern art market hard.
“It’s loss would be devastating for literally hundreds of artists. If you mention Northern Art to anyone in London today they immediate respond with “The viaduct”. I know of one dealer who has artists on standby underneath the viaduct to meet the demand for commissions. “
Another gallery pointed out that the viaduct had featured no less 14 times in the “Best-selling book The Northern School Revisited.”
Campbell-Barlow said that when the artists had gathered sufficient online signatures’, the petition would be presented to Stockport Borough Council. A spokesman for the council declined to comment.
However, not everyone agrees with the groups aims. One of the North’s leading artists Geoffrey Key responded “Is it still there? Goodness. I thought it had been knocked down ages ago.”
Stockport Council’s planning committee will make a decision on the viaduct next month which is one month from the date of this story, April 1st.