By Sue Hunter
Adeiladu means “build” in Welsh. It is the title of an artwork beside the canal at Millers Bridge, Bootle: (see illustration). Designed by David Jacques, it references an aspect of history often overlooked, namely the hundreds of thousands of Welsh workers who built Liverpool’s canals and houses. The tools appear like shadows and are made of resin, set in concrete render, with their names above written in Welsh. A circular mosaic at the side spells out the title in both Welsh and English.
The work involved Queens Road Community Centre and children from Bedford Street School, as part of a project run by Safe Productions. They researched the contribution made by Welsh migrant workers, and discovered that at the beginning of the 1900s there were over 30,000 for whom Welsh was their first language.
David Jacques explained the aim behind his design. "The work could be seen as an elegy to a Welsh presence in Liverpool at a particular point in history. The census on Welsh language speakers from around 1904 is a good marking point.
“But it's also important to see it in a present day context. The involvement of migrant workers world-wide, but most notably in our own city on immense construction programmes comes to mind."
Standing on the canal path looking at the tool shapes, what strikes you
is their human scale, and the skills involved in using them. Thanks to
these Welsh workers we still have hundreds of terraced streets of solid
houses, a canal with winding footpaths through the city, and a large integrated
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