Saturday, 28 July 2012

These Little Piggies... Are Made of Flowers!

These floral pigs stand amid the flowers on a roundabout outside the entrance to Tamworth Railway Station, and they are the nicest things about the station, which is truly horrible – it's a concrete monstrosity, and the second-tier of the car park is even worse, because it looks as if it's been made from a giant construction kit. And, I might add, I took my life in my hands to take these photos, because I had to stand in the road, with cars and taxis hooting at me. Fortunately they can't travel very fast on the station forecourt, but I had to move pretty quickly to get out of their way!
Tamworth's floral pigs - some prankster has given the one on the
left a pair of glasses.
Anyway, these beautiful living sculptures were created a couple of years ago to commemorate two Tamworth Pigs (A Tamworth Pig is a rare breed animal) who escaped on the way to the slaughter-house. The duo, who were only five months old, ran off as they were being moved from a lorry to an abbattoir: they swam across a river, and hid in gardens and a wooded area, in Malmsbury, in Wiltshire (which is actually quite a long way from Tamworth).
A side view of the pigs, showing the way they are made from
small succulent plants.
It was a week before they were captured, but during that time the pigs hit the national headlines and were acclaimed as heroes. They were nicknamed Butch and Sundance, after the American outlaws, and there was a campaign to save them from being killed. Eventually the Daily Mail bought the pigs (who were brother and sister) from the owner, and they were homed at the Rare Breeds Centre near Ashford, in Kent, which is also a long way from Tamworth. So where, I hear you ask, is the connection to the town in which I live? Read on, and all will be revealed...
Here's a Tamworth Pig I photographed a couple
 of years ago at a children's farm near Tamworth.
It was back in 1998 that the Tamworth Two were saved, and in the years that followed Butch (a sow), and Sundance (a boar) became huge attractions at the animal sanctuary, where Butch died in 2010, and her brother the following year. By then they had become something of a legend – and what better place could you find for a memorial than the town where the breed of Tamworth Pigs was first developed?
And here's a little Tamworth Piglet snapped at the same place.
For it is believed they were bred in the early 19th century, by Sir Robert Peel, while he was Chief Secretary for Ireland. It's thought he brought Irish pigs back to his home at Drayton Manor, and crossed them with his own herd. Peel, who was MP for Tamworth for many years, went on to become Home Secretary (when he founded the Metropolitan Police) and served two terms of office as Prime Minister during the reign of Queen Victoria.
This is the statue of Sir Robert Peel
which stands in front of Tamworth
Town Hall - and no, awful though the
weather has been, it hasn't snowed -
this was taken in winter!
Tamworth pigs are very distinctive, with long legs and a long snout, and they are covered in reddish hair, so are known as Sandybacks, and the name is also given to people born and bred in Tamworth. These days they a rare breed, but their meat is reckoned to be very flavoursome, and to be excellent for pork and bacon – since I am vegetarian, I cannot vouch for this.

I'd love to know how these floral sculptures are made. There are several in Tamworth (not all of pigs!), and they are very eye-catching. I think some kind of wire framework is filled with earth and planted up, but what stops it all falling out, or being washed away in the rain? By the way, please note that I've deliberately I've avoided all piggy puns, because they've been done to death in the past.

For more Saturday Snapshots see  Alice's blog at http://athomewithbooks.net/

54 comments:

  1. What an interesting post. I've never heard of Tamworth pigs, but they do look lovely in floral form.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Until I came to live in Tamworth I'd never heard of them either! Apparently they were once very popular, but fell out of fashion, and now officially listed as a rare breed - they are glorious to look at, because they are such a wonderful colour.

      Delete
  2. How adorable are those sculptures, oh and the piglet!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Replies
    1. They are quite a feature of the town - I love them.

      Delete
  4. I'm so glad there was a happy ending! and they didn't end up as bacon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That would have been terrible! I may not like the Daily Mail, but its campaign save two little piggies!

      Delete
  5. Replies
    1. I've never been able to look at pigs in quite the same way since I first heard about these two - it's almost as if they ran away because they knew what was going to happen to them.

      Delete
  6. Who'd have thunk I'd have found information on pigs to be so interesting! Yay to Butch and Sundance - I hope they're in pig heaven.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Great story of the Tamworth pigs! Love their names...Butch and Sundance. Glad that their lives were spared and they are now historic floral monuments!

    Thanks for sharing...and here's MY SATURDAY SNAPSHOT POST

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. We British are suckers for a happy animal story, especially when it's true life.

      Delete
  8. What a fun story! And great pictures to go with it. Thanks for sharing something I had no idea about before.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was a wonderful story in all the national papers when they ran away. Amazing really.

      Delete
  9. Replies
    1. I keep looking at one and wondering how esy it is to create something like that!

      Delete
  10. Piggies made of flowers! Really wonderful!

    Here is my Saturday Snapshot post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think one of the garden centres should try doing little ones, so we could all have one!

      Delete
  11. That is an interesting story. Love the pig sculptures!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thank you Karen. They make me smile every time I see them.

      Delete
  12. Butch and Sundance, I love it! The floral planters are so pretty. I think they are made with a wire frame and probably peat moss to keep the dirt from falling out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Leslie, that would make sense. I hadn't thought of peat moss, but that would hold the moisture and keep everything together. And the plants are very shallow-rooted, like house-leeks.

      Delete
  13. What a great story and memorial!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. It sounds like a children's tale, only better because it's true.

      Delete
  14. What cute pig sculptures, however it's done it's really clever. Glad you got out of the traffic in one piece.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Eva, I got some very strange looks from the taxi-drivers!

      Delete
  15. What neat living art! I like that someone put glasses on the piggy. :) The real pigs are cute too, so different from the typical pink/black pig. Glad the two escapees of lore lived long and happy lives!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Great pictures--and what a fun story. I love the names for the pigs!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is a fun story, Cheryl, and I think pigs are rather fun - they are very intelligent apparently.

      Delete
  17. These are excellent pictures! I loved this post. My Saturday Snapshot is here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Yvonne. That's kind of you to say so.

      Delete
  18. Very neat piggies! You are the intrepid photographer!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Love them all!! Especially the one with the glasses!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Vicki - sometimes there are things to enjoy right under our noses, but we are so used to them we ignore them. I just thought more people should see them.

      Delete
  20. What an unusual post. I love the floral piggies! and the real ones too. Thanks for posting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a bit peculiar I guess, but every time I catch a train I smile at the floral pigs, so I thought I'd share them. And I added the Tamworth Pigs because no-one has ever heard of them. Poor old Sir Robert Peel is a bit unseasonal though - I should walk into town and take a photo of him in the sunshine!

      Delete
  21. Love the floral pigs... almost as much as the story behind them! Thanks for a fascinating post.

    ReplyDelete
  22. This is so great in so many ways... from the absence of piggy puns to the daring adventurer braving the traffic to get us a picture of the flowery pigs... to the grand story of the two celebrated siblings. Good grief, that's quite the post!! Lol

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it Laura. I thought they deserved a wider audience.

      Delete
  23. Some Pig. The 4th photo of the Tamworth Piglet reminds me of Wilbur. ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Arti, I kept thinking of Wilbur, and I looked very hard for a tiny Charlotte, but couldn't see one anywhere, and there was definitely no magical web, but there should have been.

      Delete
  24. Floral piggies and real ones are cute!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Those sculptures are so good and I love the story behind it! So glad Butch and Sundance were saved! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The sculptures are wonderful aren't they.

      Delete
  26. I'm glad you weren't hurt taking the photos - very neat story behind them!

    ReplyDelete
  27. What a fascinating story! A friend of mine loves flowers. I'll share your post with her.

    I can relate to putting oneself in danger for photos. One of these days, an animal will not take kindly to how close I step for a snapshot.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you liked it Allison. I smile every time I see these pigs.

      Delete