Coatbridge's man in steel

A homage to a local superhero enlivens a neglected waterway. Julia Horton reports

Internationally acclaimed Scots comic book writer Mark Millar met schoolchildren in Coatbridge to unveil a new piece of artwork inspired by his fictional superheroes.

The six-metre high archway features Mr Millar's famous Captain Coatbridge creation, named after his home town, along with two female characters.

It depicts the trio of superheroes holding up the sun, moon and stars.

Constructed from thousands of pieces of painstakingly shaped steel carefully welded together, it was created by Scottish artist Andy Scott working with Advanced Higher art pupils at Mr Millar's old school, St Ambrose High.

The pupils helped to come up with the idea for the sculpture during workshops led by local artist, Merlin Currie.

The archway is part of a new pound;175,000 gateway to the 200-year-old Monkland Canal at Blair Bridge, which also features a number of stone seats with comic book-style expressions such as "Skud!" and "Skelp!" It is one of a raft of canalside community projects, built under a redevelopment scheme, which herald the renaissance of the neglected historic waterway into an attractive modern waterside space for the local community.

Some 300 schoolchildren and community groups have been involved in work revitalising this formerly unsung and unloved waterway.

Children from nearby St Kevin's Primary School were also invited to the unveiling of the archway, which took place ahead of the new school term. Councillor Jim Brooks, convener of the Coatbridge Local Area Partnership, joined the comic book writer to launch the project.

Mr Scott is the artist behind the M8 heavy horse visible to drivers travelling between Edinburgh and Glasgow.

The redevelopment work has been led by the Monkland Canal Steering Group, a partnership of bodies including British Waterways Scotland, North Lanarkshire Council and Sustrans.

The Waterways Trust Scotland, Central Scotland Forestry Trust and Calderbank Heritage Society are also members of the group.

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