Extracts from discussions with original first artist of Skelmersdale, Ian Henderson


These questions, and answers, are taken from corresponendence during 2011-12 between myself, Helen Birnbaum,  and the artist Ian Handerson.

When creating the  new town of Skelmerdale did the planners reflect the past of the Lancashire miners or the Liverpool dockers and to what effect?

 These were not Homes for Heroes as the houses made for soldiers returning from the 1st World War, bu tmainly  Liverpool city overspill, in part created by the demolition of the city after the 2nd world war.


Sign to the doctor’s surgery in New Church Farm by Henderson

But the local inhabitants did not like their new homes, and soon the Development Corpoiration realised that they needed to employ an artist to help them. Ian Henderson was employed to improve the harsh concrete environment and make it a stimulating place for young and old alike. However, he was briefed to make use of building materials in his art works; there was no specific budget for art materials.

Were the needs of the old Skelmersdale town forgotten?

Roy Lyon, councillor at the time of the development was concerned that the old town was being overlooked, and that no integration was being planned between old and new towns. But, apart from Henderson, other members of the Development Corporaton  were less concerned about the overall environment – to the longer term detriment of the town.


Stanley Park, Sandy Lane in its heyday prior to the new town redevelopment

How important is art and architecture  for children’s development?


  • Importance of allowing space for children to explore and play allowing them to congregate in areas of their own choice.
  • Strong approval for Swedish and Danish schemes that encourage children’s play within housing schemes.

Skelmersdale New Town. Pictures from the Trinity Mirror Archive.Children playing happily in teh courtyard of the new houses at Skelmersdale. 23rd January 1967

One of the first New Church Farm play sculptures designed by the Development Corporation’s NCF landscape team.

  • If rough landscapes, for example old quarries, are made into safe, terraced play areas, sadly the options for children’s imaginative use of landscape are lost and with it that input to their imaginations and growing intelligence.

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