A TWO-YEAR project to celebrate a village’s heritage has transformed a park with sculptures and themed play equipment.

Leavesden Country Park recently unveiled its new playground, as well as a sculpture trail paid for by the National Lottery Heritage fund in partnership with Three Rivers District Council and Warner Bros studios.

Reporter Daisy Smith went on a tour of the park with project development officer Lisa Cook.

The Heritage Trail consists of nine sculptures made from different materials which are spread across the park.

These focus on three themes of Minds, Movies and Machines, commemorating history from the area including Leavesden Hospital, Leavesden Studios and the Aerodrome and Rolls-Royce factory.

One of the first pieces of art is the Leavesden Spirit (pictured below), a wooden sculpture of a pilot and mechanic to represent the Aerodrome - established during World War II to produce bombers, the site was later taken over by Rolls Royce.

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On the side of the sculpture is a poem that was left on the gates of the factory after it closed in 1992.

The woodwork sculptures were created by Will Lee, a chainsaw artist based in Hertfordshire commissioned to make the Machine-themed pieces.

Other sculptures he made for the park include Ghosts in the Machine (pictured below) – which represents De Havilland aircraft engines often named after figures of myth and superstition - and The Wooden Wonder (also pictured below) – an aeroplane that plays recordings from people who worked at the aerodrome in its cockpit.

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Mr Lee also made a new totem pole for the park on the Open Day of the heritage trail on July 6.

The next theme to be represented in sculptures was Mind, which commemorates the history of Leavesden Asylum and Hospital – once called Leavesden Asylum for Idiots and Imbeciles.

Leavesden Asylum was situated between North Watford and Abbots Langley in College Road – previously known as Asylum Road – from 1870 to 1947. The asylum had capacity for 1,500 “inmates” and has changed its name several times but in 1948 when the National Health Service was created it was changed to Leavesden Hospital.

Neon, an award-winning design studio, worked on the Mind sculptures including The Evolution (pictured below)- six pillars which show how attitudes towards mental health changed over the years.

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The Boundary, a sculpture of mirrored walls, shows the barrier between people in the outside community and those who lived inside the hospital.

Finally, the Remembrance Garden (below) recalls the people who lived and worked in the hospital. It is decorated by a moving wind sculpture with three different sizes of circles – representing the patients, staff and the outside community.

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Broadbent was commissioned to create the sculptures for the Movie theme and used granite to reflect the black and white of the early films.

A Trick of Light (below) is a zoetrope - a spinning pre-film animation device - which has changeable slides for different film reels.

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Other movie themed sculptures include a director’s chair called Every Moment Shines and a pillar with metal faces kissing called The Kiss of the Screen Gods (below).

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Other works in the park include The Hive, a sensory garden outside the new playground, which was created to be a learning centre and also offers wildlife sessions with the park ranger for children.

The council was given approval for the lottery project back in 2017 for the project and has been working with people in the community and other groups since to bring together specially designed sculptures which support the heritage and wildlife of Leavesden.

Three Rivers District Council’s lead member for leisure Cllr Chris Lloyd said: “I am delighted to see the park bringing the community together.

“The open day was a fantastic celebration offering a range of activities and opportunities for all to get involved in and learn about their local area.”

Council leader Cllr Sara Bedford said: “It was good to see residents come and enjoy the new facilities in the park. This project involved many local people, and I thank them for their input.”