TAUNTON is celebrating the first anniversary of the Dragon sculpture, which is now considered the town’s latest landmark.

The Dragon was unveiled on the High Street one year ago today (February 11) through a project that brought together local authorities, businesses and the community.

The four-metre tall sculpture was commissioned by the former Somerset West and Taunton Council (SWT) at a total cost of £15,000 from its Environment Leisure Improvement Budget and Culture Development Budget.

It was created by local chainsaw artist Matthew Crabb and was unveiled by the former mayor of Taunton, Cllr Sue Lees, and the chair of SWT, Cllr Hazel Prior-Sankey.

Rebecca Fenner, owner of The Handmade Boutique on the High Street, was involved in the project from the beginning.

She said: “Somerset West and Taunton, as it was known at the time, invited lots of local businesses within Taunton to take part and put up a large vinyl red dragon in their windows in the build-up to the event and reveal of the dragon.

“From here we spoke with the event organisers to find out how we could get involved further and it went from there.

“We requested information about the shop and pursued to rent it after we attended the event.

Somerset County Gazette: The shop a year ago, on the day of the unveilingThe shop a year ago, on the day of the unveiling (Image: Contributed)

“We decorated the shop in the High Street and its windows for the event with items handmade by our stockists.

“The event was created into a full family day out with a variety of other things happening actually within the shop we now rent we had a stall with lots of items relating to the dragon and the event itself, which were all handmade by local Somerset businesses; there was Dough Bros who are located on Station Road who created dragon doughnuts for the event as well.

Somerset County Gazette: Dough Bros also joined the eventDough Bros also joined the event (Image: Contributed)

“There was also angel art face painting and glitter tattoos who was doing some great face paints for children the queues were huge.

“Inside the shop, there was also some awesome arts and crafts being done by Go Create Taunton and a selection of Lego that was donated to the event as well.

“It was a fantastic day out, and we now often tell people how to find us, we tell them as a point to look for the dragon and Mr Miles Tea Room, then they will find us.

“It’s definitely a landmark and people know where to find it. It is amazing how many young people know of where it is and we still see them now wanting pictures in front of it.

“The whole day was a huge success and there were thousands of visitors to this event, these types of things are so important for Taunton and especially the retail side of things.

“If we hadn’t been invited to have a stall at the dragon event I don’t think we would have built the relationships the way we did to get the shop we now have, we are so grateful to the council for organising these events and for allowing us to take part as a small business to be included in this way is very big for us.”

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The Mayor of Taunton, councillor Nick O’Donnell, said: “The Dragon sculpture is a wonderful piece of public art which I never fail to notice and adore every time I visit our town centre.

“The Dragon is a symbol of our county, rich in history and culture, and we are its principal town, so feel a real sense of pride that Taunton was chosen as its home.

“As Mayor, I have often used it as a backdrop for photos with guests to our town, because of both its significance and beauty.”

The leader of Taunton Town Council, councillor Tom Deakin said: “The sculpture has quickly become part of Taunton’s identity, a landmark where people arrange to meet friends and a photo opportunity for visitors from near and far.

“People still speak fondly of the Taunton Toads, previously situated in the Pig Market (now the Orchard Centre) and currently resident in Victoria Park, and I think that the Dragon is going to hold a special place in peoples’ hearts for years to come as well.”