The sea defences at Cleveleys are brought to life with a public art trail – one piece is Mary’s Shell.
You can find the shell sat on the beach at Cleveleys. It’s towards the northern end of the new promenade, opposite Jubilee Gardens and adjacent to the seafront cafe.
It’s completely visible once the tide goes out, and large enough for you to climb inside it and take a really good look.
Once the tide comes in the shell fills with water and only the very top of it remains visible, poking through the waves.
The clip below of the tide lapping around Mary’s Shell was taken on a sunny, blowy day in June
This video clip of the shell underwater at high tide, was taken in December 2014
It’s a huge piece of public art, fastened to a base which has been fixed to concrete foundations set in the beach just in front of the cafe.
It’s 8m long and 4m tall and weighs in at 16.5 tonnes, with words from the story of the Sea Swallow etched inside.
Once the tide goes out, you can climb inside and listen for the sounds of the sea and waves.
Installation of Mary’s Shell
When the beach nourishment works were carried out in the summer of 2013, concrete foundations were cast in the beach for the Shell and the Ogre.
On the morning of Wednesday 25 September 2013 in a race against the tide, it was positioned in place, with a bit of old fashioned technology, pulling and steel plates, take a look at this clip.
The shell was taken to it’s new position on a trailer, which was then dug down into the beach adjacent to the base. Steel plates were welded together to fill the space between the base and the trailer, and an expert JCB driver pulled the sculpture gently off the trailer and into position in a perfectly executed manoeuvre which drew the attention of a crowd of onlookers.
When the beach nourishment works were carried out in the summer of 2013, the concrete foundation was cast in the beach for the Shell.
Mary’s Shell was originally delivered to Cleveleys on Friday 13 September 2013 and spent a couple of weeks perched on a trailer on the shingle beach, awaiting transportation to its final spot on the sand.
Friday 13th September turned out to be an unfortunate choice of day – it was intended to be the day of installation but because of problems with the crane that was brought to site to do the lift, which wasn’t suitable for use on the sand, the installation couldn’t take place as planned.
Everything went well for the second date of 25th September, and the Shell was positioned on the beach.
The original artists illustrations for Mary’s Shell
More about the Cleveleys Mythological Coastline
The sea defences at Cleveleys were rebuilt to protect the coastline from flooding. At the same time, the fabulous new, award winning design increased the popularity of this much loved seaside town and has attracted people from near and far to come and enjoy the spectacular views and much better access to the beach.
The ‘Cleveleys Mythological Coastline’ project secured grant funding through the national Sea Change project, which aims to regenerate the coast through the Arts, much of which has involved the area around the Marine Hall and gardens at Fleetwood. In Cleveleys, the project creates a legacy to follow the sea defence works, and a story that’s Cleveleys very own for the future.
The Sea Swallow is the story, written for children but with a charm that’s unmissable, and tells a fairy tale that blends legend with local features, including sunken villages and the petrified forest which you can still see on the beach today. In 2011, each primary school child in Wyre was given a copy of the book.
You can find out about the other pieces of public art along Cleveleys seafront in this section with the links in the menu.
Would you like your own Mary’s Shell?
Visit Cleveleys is independently published by The Rabbit Patch Ltd. We’re a design and creatives company right here on the Fylde Coast and we have an online shop where we sell our own original art and photos.
This is our photograph of Mary’s Shell – available framed or as a plain print. Follow the link and have a look around at both local scenes and traditional seaside views.
Mary’s Shell on Cleveleys Beach – it draws photographers from far and wide.