8 April 2016

Community efforts to renovate Portslade artwork trashed by vandals

A piece of public art in Portslade that had been lovingly restored by local volunteers has been ruined by vandals.

The Portslade “Gassie” on the A259 (Wellington Road) and Church Road junction depicts a man in a boat and marks the time when workers, known as “gassies” were ferried across the canal in small boats. It was the quickest way for workers living in Portslade to cross over to work at the gas works. Gasworks were built in Portslade in the second half of the nineteenth century and by the 1920s, the site occupied 40 acres, providing work for many local residents.

In recent years the “Gassie” has been in sore need of renovation which prompted a local resident to start repairing the timbers on the boat. For the last 12 weeks work was carried out to restore not only the boat, but also to plant grasses to look like waves and generally bring the installation back to life  with the help of local businesses which donated materials.

Councillor Gill Mitchell, chair of the city’s environment committee, said: “It’s appalling that someone has destroyed the hard work of volunteers in this way. It doesn’t just hurt the council but it hurts the community as well. It’s a pointless piece of vandalism but it won’t deter our fantastic local volunteers and businesses who help keep our parks and open spaces looking good for everyone to enjoy.”

If anyone has any information please call Sussex Police on 101, quoting the reference number 421 of 07/04/2016. Plans are already underway to start repairing the installation. If anyone would like to give support to getting the project back up and running, in particular anyone who has timber or possibly a replacement rowing boat that could be used, please contact Cityparks on (01273) 292929 or email cityparks@brighton-hove.gov.uk