Waterway statues: empowerment on the River Witham – East Midlands

Look out for this unusual piece of art made to celebrate the millennium

Photo: Dave Hitchborne


Take a stroll along the banks of the River Witham in City Square in the heart of Lincoln and you might notice two graceful figures reaching out to each other across the water. This inspiring aerial sculpture, named Empowerment, was crafted by Liverpool-based artist Stephen Broadbent in 2002. It was commissioned following an open competition to create a new artwork for this space in celebration of the millennium. And what a celebration it is.

The 16-metre high figures echo the blades of a gas turbine, in recognition of Lincoln’s industrial heritage. The aluminium and steel blades transform into figures that reach out to empower one another, like the blades empower one another within a turbine. Broadbent says of his work, “The theme of empowerment is reinforced by the sculpture’s position in City Square, linking the important ideal of empowerment and the citizen.”

As well as this stunning sculpture to pass underneath, boaters can find another distinctive waterway gem nearby at High Bridge – the oldest bridge in Britain that still has buildings on it. Nicknamed the ‘Glory Hole’, this 12th-century bridge was an important centre for merchants in medieval times. Fish were brought up from the coast or caught locally in the river, then sold on the bridge. Farmers also brought meat by boat or wagon to be bartered at this bustling spot. One of the black and white Tudor buildings on the bridge houses a historic tearoom – Stokes High Bridge Cafe – the perfect place to enjoy a slab of their famed steak pie while watching boaters pass below.

Learn more about the River Witham on the Canal & River Trust website and about the story behind the statue Empowerment here.