The Concrete Hippo is a piece of public art in a middle sized industrial town in the English Midlands called Walsall. I have spoken with many people about when it was constructed, and nobody seems to know exactly, but the opinion is it was sometime in the 1980s. It was one of the first pieces of Public Art to grace the town, second only to the statue of Sister Dora.

Nowadays there are many pieces of public art, including the podium with a fountain adorned with large bronze faces. This cost a large amount of money to build, and became instantly loathed, as nobody had thought that building something with the specific purpose of creating somewhere for people to congregate may attract teenagers, who were described by one local politician as "worse than the pigeons".

After vast sums of money started to be spent on public art in Walsall town centre, representatives of other towns in the local area under the control of Walsall council complained that Walsall was getting all the attention. This resulted in a very amusing debate in which the three main political parties discussed their take on public art, from a Walsall standpoint.

Conservative : We need to spend more money on public art.
Labour : Nobody likes this expensive public art; the cheapest one is the Concrete Hippo, and everybody loves that. We should make more.
Liberal Democrats : It's all well and good talking about more concrete hippos for Walsall, but what about Darlaston and Wednesbury? We should have public art too.

The discussion was ended after the three parties checked if the mould for the Hippo was still in existence, and it was found not to be.

More recently, the operator of the local health trust started a website showcasing everything good about Walsall, but didn't include the Hippo. A friend of mine organised a petition to include photographs of the hippo on the website, and got it signed by over a hundred people, including a German game developer (for reasons that to this day escape me!).

The Hippo still stands by Sister Dora, near the podium, opposite the HSBC bank. It has 3 benches arranged around it, where children gather to take turns riding the (less than a metre tall) symbol of our small town.

I've put an ASCII drawing of him below, for more on our little town, visit there is a picture of him there, with comments from other Walsall residents (needless to say, they love the Hippo), and lots of other information on the strange things that happen in my part of the world.
          _ ..__________..
    _____/,               \
   /                       |
   |                       |
   |____/                  |
   \___    ____       .    |
       \___|   |_____/  __/
           /--/     /--/

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