SCHOOLCHILDREN caught the first glimpse of a miniature model of a new-look elephant that will take pride of place in Bolton town centre next year.

The present herd of elephants that have stood in the pedestrianised area of Newport Street for the past 25-years are to be removed because they are past their best.

Three new models, costing a total of £30,000, are to take their place.

And Cllr Cliff Morris, leader of Bolton Council, showed a model of what the new elephants would look like to Year Four pupils at St Osmund and St Andrew's RC School in Breightmet.

He said: "The current elephants in Newport Street are extremely close to the hearts of many Boltonians, and although they have lasted longer than their intended lifespan, they are now suffering from cracks and looking tired.

"We felt, therefore, that it was important to keep elephants in this spot, but fresh, revitalised versions."

Now, schoolchildren across Bolton are being invited to enter a competition to come up with a colour scheme for the new elephants.

The new elephants will be made of Jesmonite, a durable, weatherproof and environmentally friendly material.

The future of the existing elephants, which are due to be removed in March, is as yet unknown.

Cllr Morris said: "As there are no other landmarks in the town centre that have been designed with children in mind, planning the installation of the new elephants has given us the opportunity to ensure that the children of Bolton can make their mark on the town, and enjoy some involvement and ownership of this exciting project."

Nearly 400 children at St Osmund and St Andrew's are taking part in the competition.

Jamie McCarthy, aged eight, from Breightmet, said: "My design is going to have some grey in it, because elephants are grey. It is a nice model.

"I would love to win the competition and see it every time I go into the town centre."

Candace Flatley, aged eight, also from Breightmet, said: "I love animals and art. My design is very colourful, with my favourite ones. I did it art class and really hope I win so my family can see it."

Headteacher John Thorpe said: "We have some very talented pupils and I think one of them does stand a good chance of winning.

"One of the pupils said it would nice to win and be famous in Bolton."

The winning designs will be announced in January, and the new elephants are scheduled to be installed by April.

Entry forms are available at local schools, in your local library or by calling 01204 336131/336124, or be downloaded by visiting:

The competition closes on Friday, December 8.