BOLTON’S historic cast iron elephants have packed their trunks and found a new home in the town centre.

The famous figures have been given a new coat of paint and placed on a specially made steel structure on the corner of a group of shops in Octagon Square.

A new information board has also been created directly below the elephants’ new home.

It shares with visitors the journey that the iconic elephants have taken around Bolton — which saw them stand proudly on top of the Bridson’s Bleachworks in Chorley Street for more than 100 years.

More recently they were based on top of the town centre charity canopy before it was dismantled in 2014.

Their new position forms part of the new play area being created by the council in Octagon Court.

And they will soon be joined by their large, colourful counterparts — Ellie, Elner and Mr Jackbow — which were previously located in Newport Street and are soon to be brought to the new play area.

Council chiefs said the cast iron figures — which collectively weigh more than a tonne — needed to be situated high up and away from the play area itself so as not to cause any danger to youngsters.

Council leader Cliff Morris said: “We decided on this location because we didn’t want a child to fall on the elephants and injure themselves.

“This way they are on display for lots of people to see as they come past and we are really pleased to be returning them to the town centre and unveiling this information board on their history.”

The elephants have been placed on the building which houses the Bella Pizza shop.

Owner Hamid Eghbali said: “I think they are quite nice and they don’t really affect us, so we are okay with it.

“We will have to wait and see whether the play area brings more people to this side of town.”

The move has not gone down well with everyone — Conservative councillor and heritage campaigner John Walsh said it was a “pathetic decision".

He added: “It is totally ill-becoming to put something of such important historical context for our town on top of a shop unit that was only meant to be a temporary measure in the first place.”

The new play area includes a large multi-use play structure with climbing frames and a slide, as well as two elephant-shaped rockers.

The elephant theme will be continued with elephant footprints carved into paving stones across the square.

As part of the project, Octagon Court is also being repaved in sandstone and new LED lighting columns will be installed.

Cllr Morris added: “We are pleased with how the play area is coming along and we hope to open it soon — just in time for the nice weather.”