BOLTON'S famous town centre elephants are to be removed because of repeated vandalism.

The sculptures have stood in Newport Street for 25 years.

But town hall chiefs say they are now looking tatty and patched up because of repeated damage.

They are to be replaced with a £50,000 new sculpture which will still have an elephant theme.

Elephants have been a Bolton symbol for more than 200 years.

In recent years, the glass fibre sculptures have been smashed, sprayed with graffiti and slashed with knives.

One elephant has been removed after it was irreparably damaged in an attack.

Cllr Barbara Ronson, the Liberal Democrat leader of the council, said: "It is sad that these people see fit to deface and damage these elephants which are closely identified with the town.

"They have become tatty over the years because of all the repair work and damage that has been caused.

"Elephants are important to Bolton and we want to make sure that they play a role in the new design.

"Hopefully, the new designs, whatever they are will be, will be more durable."

Bolton was dubbed the elephant capital of the North-west some years ago but not many people know the connection with the animal.

The elephant was adopted as part of the town's coat of arms and crest in 1799.

It is thought to denote the town's connection with the old County of Coventry which had also adopted the animal on its crest.

Elephant symbols were also stamped on Bolton-made cloth by early weavers to denote that the cloth was strong and of good quality.

A consultation exercise will be held to find out the public's views on the new sculpture before an artist is chosen to produce designs.

The scheme will be funded from the council's Town Centre Improvement Fund, which is made up of a mixture of grants and council tax money.

But Cllr Paul Brierley, Conservative councillor for Bradshaw, has called on the council to instead use the money to keep open the free toilets at Moor Lane Bus Station in Bolton town centre.

He described as "unacceptable" plans to close the toilets to save £50,000 after the Greater Manchester Transport Passenger Authority opened a unisex 10p coin-operated single-use toilet at the station.

Cllr Brierley said: "It is ludicrous that they are prepared to close these toilets to save the same amount of money that they are now prepared to spend on an artistic sculpture few people are likely to appreciate."

l What do you think? Should Bolton's elephants be replaced? Send your views to or write to Letters to the Editor, Bolton Evening News, Churchgate, Bolton, BL1 1DE.