Charity moves to save 'site-specific' steel dinosaurs at Teessaurus Park with listing bid

A bid has been submitted to protect the dinosaur sculptures at a Teesside park, which could be relocated to make way for a travellers' site.

The Twentieth Century (C20) Society has applied to Historic England for three "site-specific" dinosaurs at Teessaurus Park in Middlesbrough to be listed. The charity says the sculptures, which were installed in 1979, "represent a rare major 20th century public art commission for a female artist."

As reported, land at the park, off Riverside Park Road, was earmarked in the council's draft local plan for a traveller's site which could see the dinosaurs relocated within the park or shifted to a different location altogether. The plan highlights a need for 14 additional traveller pitches in the area to meet Government targets.

The sculptures were designed by Geneviève Glatt, an artist who studied at Teesside Polytechnic. In 1974, she entered a competition launched by the Arts Council to submit proposals aimed at bringing under-used public spaces back to life for the benefit of the community.

In her winning competition entry, she said: "The site needs life – forms sympathetic to the environment but large and powerful enough to compete with surrounding structures. Monsters…? Dinosaurs came to mind“.

The C20 Society, which campaigns to protect the buildings and design that characterise 20th century Britain, said listing would ensure "proper consideration" is given to the conservation of the sculptures. "The Middlesbrough sculptures are an excellent example of Arts Council-funded community art, created to enliven a new public green space within the town, and stand up well against other listed post-war public sculptures," said the charity.

Public consultation on the council's draft local plan was launched earlier in the year. A spokesperson for the local authority said they are currently considering all the issues raised before moving on to the plan preparation stage.

The council previously said the dinosaurs would still be accessible to the public, wherever they end up. However the plans have been met with public opposition and a campaign to prevent their removal was launched in January with almost 8,000 people signing a petition.

The council spokesman said they have been made aware of the listing application and "will engage with that process in due course.”

For breaking news in your area direct to your inbox every day, go here to sign up to our free newsletter