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Giant screwdriver idea put forward to enhance Bolt sculpture at the junction of Godinton Road and West Street in Ashford

An artist is suggesting that Ashford’s iconic Bolt sculpture needs a revamp – so people know precisely what it represents.

The giant Bolt, which sits on a mini-roundabout at the junction of Godinton Road and West Street, is intended to celebrate Ashford’s railway heritage.

But artist Joe King reckons that many people don’t know that and think it’s just a rusty, dome-style feature , so he wants to add a giant screwdriver to the structure so everyone knows exactly what it is.

An artist's impression of how the Bolt would look with the addition of a giant screwdriver
An artist's impression of how the Bolt would look with the addition of a giant screwdriver

Mr King, who lives in Willesborough, said: “Since it was installed in 2008 the Bolt has been a bit of a love-hate thing.

“Some people think it looks good and know what the meaning behind it is but others don’t have a clue and think it’s awful.

“I’ve heard some people says it’s really ugly and an eyesore.

”I really like it, so I’ve been playing around with various ideas of how to amend it so it’s instantly recognisable for what it is.

“Basically I’m suggesting adding a giant screwdriver to the top of the actual bolt so people can see the dome is a bolt and that the screwdriver could either tighten or loosen it.

“I know it sounds a bit whacky but I really think it could work and look really eye-catching.”

Artist Joe King
Artist Joe King

Mr King, who normally paints acrylic landscapes of Kent, says a graphic designer friend created this pictorial impression of what he has in mind – a large screwdriver inserted into the crown of the Bolt, with the handle colour-matched to the base part.

The Bolt is made out of cor-ten steel which should never require painting or major maintenance.

Mr King added: “I have an engineer friend who has done some calculations for me on my idea.

“He says a metal pole can be inserted into the base that will run up into the screwdriver to support it.

“He reckons casting the screwdriver section, the erection and ancillary work could all be achieved for around £5,000.”

The Bolt as it is now
The Bolt as it is now

Mr King said he now plans to approach the Bolt’s designer John Atkin and Ashford Borough Council and Kent County Council to secure their backing for his idea.

He said: “If they agree then I’ll be looking for local firms to sponsor the cost. People I have spoken to and shown the design to think it’s quirky and could create a lot of interest. After all how many town centres have a big bolt with a screwdriver sticking out of it as a piece of street sculpture?

"I know there’s been a lot of controversy about The Flume in Bank Street, mainly because it was very expensive to install and is falling apart.

"With the Bolt I’m trying to breathe new life into something that’s here to stay, is seen by thousands of drivers and pedestrians every day but maybe is a little tired.”

The Bolt in Ashford - when pranksters decorated it as aChristmas pudding
The Bolt in Ashford - when pranksters decorated it as aChristmas pudding

Last December mystery decorators adorned the Bolt with large red ‘berries’ and green leaves to turn it into a large Christmas pudding.

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