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 to the seafront cafe.
Take a look at this video clip of families enjoying an old fashioned afternoon on the beach. Summer’s made for this!
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.
There’s one thing for sure, photographers love it!
When Mary’s Shell on Cleveleys Beach goes Underwater…
Once the tide comes in, the shell fills with water. 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.
In the next clip, the tide is lapping around Mary’s Shell, on a sunny, blowy day in June –
That’s what a lovely day looks like. But in complete contrast, the next clip is the shell underwater at high tide in December.
Rough weather here at Cleveleys can be really, really rough, and Mary’s Shell really gets a battering then! Have you seen stormy weather in summer? It can be just as bad as it is in the winter. There’s just no telling.
What is Mary’s Shell on Cleveleys Beach?
Made of metal, it’s a huge piece of public art, part of the Mythic Coast art trail.
A whopping 8m long and 4m tall, weighing in at 16.5 tonnes, it’s fastened to concrete foundations set in the beach.
Once the tide goes out, you can climb inside the shell. 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 beach nourishment works were carried out in the summer of 2013, the concrete foundation for Mary’s Shell was cast in the beach.
Mary’s Shell spent a couple of weeks perched on a trailer on the shingle at Rossall Beach, awaiting transportation to its proper spot on the sand.
The original day of delivery and installation, Friday 13th September, turned out to be an unfortunate choice of day. The crane brought to site to do the lift wasn’t suitable for use on the sand, so installation couldn’t take place that day as planned.
In a race against the tide, the team heaved Mary’s Shell into place on the morning of Wednesday 25 September 2013. Old fashioned technology, pulling, shoving and steel plates completed the installation.
The shell was delivered to the beach near to the Five Bar Gate at Rossall Promenade and a trailer delivered it to its spot near the cafe.
The trailer was dug down into the beach next to the base. Then steel plates were welded together to fill the space between the base and the trailer before an expert JCB driver pulled the sculpture gently off the trailer. It was placed into position in a perfectly executed manoeuvre. As you can imagine, this was all watched by a crowd of onlookers, including Visit Cleveleys.
Take a look at this clip. Unfortunately it’s a bit blurry, it was filmed in the days before iPhones!
Casting the Concrete Base
Before Mary’s Shell could be installed, a concrete base was first cast for it. This work was done on 8 July 2013.
The sand was dug away and a form (mould) positioned in the hole. Like all beach works, it was a race against the tide, with the diggers taking the form out onto the beach as the tide was retreating. As soon as the sea had gone, the hole was dug.
Concrete mixers delivered the wet cement, then it was carried across the beach in a dumper truck. Once poured into the shape it set to make the stable base for the shell to be positioned on.
Original Artists Illustrations
More about the Cleveleys Mythic Coast
Wyre Council secured funding to rebuild the sea defences at Cleveleys, to protect the coast from flooding and erosion. They also secured additional funding from other places to create the Mythic Coast, and include the decorative lights, seats and other niceties.
The fabulous new, multi-award winning design increased the popularity of this much loved seaside town. It attracts people from near and far to enjoy the spectacular views and great access to the beach.
The ‘Cleveleys Mythological Coastline’ project secured grant funding through the national Sea Change project. It’s aim is 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 with an unmissable charm. The fairy tale blends legend with local features, including sunken villages and the petrified forest which you can still see on the beach today. Each primary school child in Wyre received a copy of the book back in 2011.
Would you like your own Mary’s Shell?
We’re the Rabbit Patch Ltd and we independently publish Visit Cleveleys. We’re a design and creatives company here on the Fylde Coast and we have an online shop of our own original paintings and photos called Seaside Emporium.
We’ve created this watercolour painting of Mary’s Shell for you to treasure.
Or you might prefer our photo of it at sunset to hang on your wall.
While you’re here…
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