Bolton Council has started work on a new town centre play area, which will reflect the town’s historic links with elephants.

The new play area will be situated in Octagon Court and includes a large multi-use play structure with climbing frames and a slide, as well as two elephant-shaped rockers.

The brightly coloured elephants which previously stood at the top of Newport Street will be given a new home adjoining the play area.

The elephant theme will be continued with elephant footprints carved into paving stones across the square.

There will also be a sign explaining the history of elephants in Bolton and Bolton’s long connection with these animals.

As part of the project, Octagon Court will also be repaved in sandstone and new LED lighting columns will be installed.

The work is due to be completed by the end of spring.

Businesses surrounding the play area have been notified of the work taking place and reassured that it should not impact upon their trading.

Councillor Cliff Morris, Leader of Bolton Council said: “We’re really excited to be creating this great new elephant-themed play area, to reflect the town’s long history and association with elephants throughout the years.

It will also be home to our other elephants from around the town.

We hope that parents ‘won’t forget’ to take a break from shopping, whilst their children have fun playing on the new play area and learn about the town’s connections with these enormous animals.”

Bolton’s connection with elephants is surrounded by mystery. But it stretches back at least to 1799 when the symbol was first recorded being used on the official stamp of the clerk to the town’s board of trustees. In 1890 Major Ottley Perry incorporated the elephant into the former Bolton County Borough arms. The addition of the elephant was reportedly to celebrate a connection between Bolton and the ancient Diocese of Mercia, in the old county of Coventry, created by Lancastrian King Henry VI