Public Art: Mary's Shell on Cleveleys Beach

Public Art: Mary's Shell on Cleveleys Beach

The sea defences at Cleveleys are brought to life with a public art trail. One piece is Mary’s Shell on Cleveleys beach. It’s on the sands at the northern end of the promenade, find it opposite Jubilee Gardens near the seafront cafe.

Visit Mary’s Shell on Cleveleys Beach

It’s completely visible once the tide goes out, and large enough for you to climb inside it and take a really good look.

Mary's Shell on Cleveleys Beach

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Take a look at this video clip of families enjoying an old fashioned afternoon on the beach. This is what summer is made for!

Mary's Shell on Cleveleys beach in the summer sunshine
Mary's Shell on Cleveleys Beach
Mary’s Shell on Cleveleys Beach

Mary's Shell on Cleveleys Beach

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Mary's Shell on Cleveleys Beach

When Mary’s Shell on Cleveleys Beach goes Underwater…

Once the tide comes in, the shell fills with water. You can see only the very top of it remains visible, poking through the waves. The next photo is one of those lovely sunny, blowy days that you get in spring and autumn.

When the tide comes in on Mary's Shell on Cleveleys Beach it disappears underwater
When the tide comes in on Mary’s Shell on Cleveleys Beach it disappears underwater

And the clip below is of the tide lapping around Mary’s Shell, it was taken on a sunny, blowy day in June –

The tide coming in over Mary's Shell on Cleveleys beach, on a sunny day

The next video clip is of the shell underwater at high tide, taken in December 2014. Rough weather here at Cleveleys can be really, really rough, and Mary’s Shell on Cleveleys beach gets a battering then! Did you know that it can be as stormy in the summer as it is in the winter? There’s just no telling.

The tide comes in over Mary's Shell on Cleveleys beach in stormy winter weather

What is Mary’s Shell on Cleveleys Beach?

It’s a huge piece of public art, part of the Mythic Coast art trail. It’s fastened to a base which is fixed to concrete foundations set in the beach.

Mary’s Shell on Cleveleys beach is a whopping 8m long and 4m tall and weighs in at 16.5 tonnes.

Once the tide goes out, you can climb inside it and listen for the sounds of the sea and read the words from the story of the Sea Swallow, etched inside.

Installation of Mary’s Shell on Cleveleys Beach

When the beach nourishment works were carried out in the summer of 2013, the concrete foundation for Mary’s Shell was cast in the beach.

Friday 13th…

Mary’s Shell was originally delivered to Cleveleys on Friday 13 September 2013. It spent a couple of weeks perched on a trailer on the shingle at Rossall Beach, awaiting transportation to its final spot on the sand.

Friday 13th September turned out to be an unfortunate choice of day, as it was originally intended to be the day of installation. However, the crane that was brought to site to do the lift wasn’t suitable for use on the sand, so the installation couldn’t take place as planned.

Mary's Shell on Rossall Beach, on a trailer waiting to be installed
Mary’s Shell on Rossall Beach, on a trailer waiting to be installed

Finally, on the morning of Wednesday 25 September 2013 in a race against the tide, Mary’s Shell was positioned in place.

A bit of old fashioned technology, pulling and steel plates finally got it installed. Take a look at this clip, which unfortunately is a bit blurry. After all – it was filmed in the days before iPhones!

Installing Mary's Shell on Cleveleys beach

The shell was delivered to the beach near to the Five Bar Gate at Rossall Promenade, then a trailer delivered it to its spot near the cafe. The trailer was dug down into the beach adjacent to the base. Next, steel plates were welded together to fill the space between the base and the trailer. Then an expert JCB driver pulled the sculpture gently off the trailer and into position in a perfectly executed manoeuvre. As you can imagine, this was all watched by a crowd of onlookers, including Visit Cleveleys!

Installing Mary's Shell on Cleveleys beach

Installing Mary's Shell on Cleveleys beach

Installing Mary's Shell on Cleveleys beach

Installing Mary's Shell on Cleveleys beach
Installing Mary’s Shell on Cleveleys beach

Original Artists Illustrations

Original artist's impression of Mary's Shell
Original artist’s impression of Mary’s Shell

More about the Cleveleys Mythic Coast

Funding was secured by Wyre Council to rebuild the sea defences at Cleveleys to protect the coast from flooding. They successfully applied for funding from other places in order to create the Mythic Coast and include the decorative lights, seats etc.

The fabulous new, multi-award winning design increased the popularity of this much loved seaside town. It’s 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. 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, it’s written for children but has a charm that’s unmissable. It’s 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.

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.

Original photograph from Seaside Emporium

Photo of Mary's Shell on Cleveleys beach from Seaside Emporium
Photo of Mary’s Shell on Cleveleys beach from Seaside Emporium

Find out More

Have a look at the Visit Cleveleys website homepage for more of the latest updates.

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