The iconic Skylon was manufactured locally by engineering firm Painter Bros for the 1951 Festival of Britain and captured the nation’s imagination with its futuristic design which echoed the mood for advancements in technology.
Sixty years later the Skylon is set to make a comeback as the inspiration behind a concept being considered for the Hereford Enterprise Zone at Rotherwas.
Skylon Park - The Hereford Enterprise Zone
“When it was built, the Skylon represented a futuristic symbol of the hopes and aspirations of the nation. It depicted in visual form the optimism and confidence of a future using cutting-edge technologies,” said Neil Kerr, chairman of the Hereford Business Board and vice-chairman of the Enterprise Zone Board.
“This is what the new Enterprise Zone represents and we believe the image of the Skylon is a fitting tribute which reflects the county’s proud engineering tradition while symbolising the modern hi-technology businesses and their ambition, innovation and drive they will bring to the Enterprise Zone,” added Neil.
“Using modern technology we’re proposing to create a new 48m tall Skylon which will mark the entrance to the new Enterprise Zone. This will be a bold statement of intent and will be matched by the high design standards and sustainability we expect from the architects behind the buildings which will be constructed on the site.
“We’re now launching a design competition to invite architects to be part of this great project.”
The concept involves the construction of the new iconic Skylon on the roundabout at the end of the Rotherwas access road to mark the entrance to the Enterprise Zone.
It would be illuminated at night and could become a tourist attraction in its own right.
“This is only a concept we’re working with at this stage,” added Neil, “but the potential is huge. This will put the Enterprise Zone on the map and would be an inspiration to the world class leading technology and communication businesses we are attracting to the site.
“We propose to name the new business park “Skylon Park. There are 21 Enterprise Zones in the UK and we must stand out from the rest. Once we have concluded a detailed feasibility study, we will be looking for a company, or companies, to sponsor the construction, so there will be no cost to the ratepayer.”
Cllr Roger Phillips, Herefordshire council’s cabinet member for enterprise and culture, said the use of the iconic Skylon would be a great symbol for the Zone.
“In its day, the Skylon was a feat of engineering at the cutting edge of manufacturing technology. It’s this same spirit of innovation, ambition and courage we hope to see on the Enterprise Zone.
“We’re aiming to attract businesses specialising in activities linked to the defence, security and science-based industries onto the site so the Skylon is the perfect choice, particularly as it was made locally and reflects the same values now as when it was constructed.”
Rotherwas was nominated for Enterprise Zone status by the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership, which represents the business interests of Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin and Herefordshire at regional and national levels.
Neil is keen to gauge reactions and get feedback on the proposals from businesses and local people. Comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org