Plans to create “a boulevard of light” along Lord Street in Southport is now past the halfway stage.
The whole of one side of the tree-lined town centre boulevard, which is home to scores of shops, bars, hotels and restaurants, is now complete with decorative lighting.
Visitors can see lights wrapped around trees from the Community Fire & Ambulance Station end towards The Ribble building end on the eastern side, with contractors now getting close to The Scarisbrick Hotel on the seaward side of the street.
The ambitious Southport Business Improvement District (Southport BID) project aims to create a dazzling outdoor environment and support the town’s thriving outdoor leisure culture.
The initiative has been made possible thanks to £100,000 Acceleration Grant funding through the Southport Town Deal, in addition to match-funding by Southport BID.
The new lighting is being installed by Southport firm Illumidex UK Ltd.
Illumidex owner Steve Clayton said: “They look amazing! Now we are putting lights along both sides of Lord Street, it is forming a tunnel of light which looks fantastic. I can’t wait to see it all finished!
“I don’t know of anywhere else in the UK which is going to have a one mile shopping street like this containing 20 miles of lights with 300,000 bulbs wrapped around 80 trees.
“The reaction has been brilliant. We have had so many people pulling over in their cars to say we’re doing a great job, people tooting their horns, and lots of nice comments on social media. One bloke walks his dog along Lord Street every night, and enjoys seeing how we’re doing.
“A lot of people are made up when they find out that we’re a Southport firm doing all this work, when they see the 01704 number on the side of our work vehicles.
“I get a lot of pleasure doing this because I can see what it is doing to our town.
“In this drab time of Covid, it is really brightening Southport up. Lord Street is really glowing at the moment. I would love to be able to see an aerial view of it all when it’s done!
“The lights are going to attract a lot of visitors because it gives a great feeling to the area. It is what Lord Street should look like.
“We started at the fire station end of Lord Street and then moved all the way down to the Morrisons end, wrapping around three trees each night. We are now coming back up the other side and hope to be completed in the next few weeks.
“The lockdown restrictions in place at the moment means that the town centre is much quieter than usual, so it’s easier for us to complete our work.
“We estimate we’re wrapping around three trees a night, putting around 30 sets of lights in each, depending on the size of the tree.
“The biggest tree we’ve wrapped so far was one next to Remedy, where we used 85 sets of lights. It’s so bright it lights up Southport Town Hall! It took us four hours to light up that one.
“We have used 60 sets of lights in a couple of trees, and 50 in another.
“By the time we’ve finished we will have used 3,000 set of lights in total, containing 300,000 bulbs. The lights that we’re installing now are a lot brighter than the previous ones.”
Sefton Council contractors helped by pruning the trees along Lord Street so the new lights could be installed.
Half moon discs, each containing a number, will be attached to each of boulevard’s 80 trees, so local business owners or members of the public can easily identify or report any trees where any issues may need addressing in the months ahead.
Southport BID CEO Rachel Fitzgerald said: “Replacing the lights along both sides of this mile-long street is a substantial project, which has been made possible by the BID and its members, the local businesses we have here in Southport town centre.
“Lord Street in Southport is one of the most beautiful and unique shopping streets in the North West. It is home to lots of superb shops, restaurants, cafes, bars, hotels and other local businesses.
“We want to encourage people in our town to think about Lord Street as a place we are all very proud of, and that is why we are investing substantial amounts of money to make it shine.
“We can’t wait to see local residents and visitors being able to return and enjoy shopping and enjoying a good night out here.”