Welsh screen stars immortalised on cycle path

Brydon and Burton will be joined by local ranger

by Tom Henry   February 12, 2010  

rob brydon.jpg

Cyclists using a path connecting Port Talbot to the Afan Forest, in south west Wales, will have the pleasure of Rob Brydon and Richard Burton's company as they ride.

The comedian and the late film star have been chosen, along with local man Dick Wagstaff, to be immortalised in steel as part of a Sustrans project to put sculptures on cycle paths across the UK.

The Portrait Bench art initiative has been started by Sustrans using a £50million grant from the Big Lottery Fund. Afan Valley residents are the first to choose their local characters for the bench and it will be installed in the spring. Each bench will be individual to each community with nearly 80 installed across the UK by 2013.

Rob Brydon said: "This is a great honour and I look forward to offering weary cyclists the chance to catch their breath. I love the thought of becoming part of the landscape alongside Dick Wagstaff and the great Richard Burton. I'm hoping that my sculpture might be able to persuade Burton's sculpture to quote some poetry of an evening, or at least a bit of War Of The Worlds."

Dick Wagstaff, Manager Ranger at the Afan Forest Park, said he was flattered by the news. “I've worked in the Afan Valley for over 35 years so to be a part of it in a piece of art is a huge honour,” he said. “I can't believe my image will be alongside such famous local sons as Burton and Brydon. "

Graham Jenkins, brother of the late movie legend Richard Burton and local resident, commented: “It's wonderful that my brother will be commemorated in this way - our family are thrilled. He never forgot where he came from - the Afan Valley - and I know he would be tickled pink to see himself become an actual part of the landscape in which he was born and grew up."

Sara Rees, Senior Arts Officer, Sustrans Cymru, said the Portrait Bench was a great example of how everyday journeys can be made attractive and interesting.