TOURISTS are making tracks to see a life-size locomotive created out of 181,000 world-famous Accrington Nori bricks.

But the £760,000 artwork steamed straight into controversy when it was unveiled this week in Morton Park, Darlington.

Former Durham county councillor Peter Jones claimed the huge steam train built to commemorate the birthplace of rail travel is a "ludicrous waste of public money."

The sculpture, simply called Train, was designed and assembled by Darlington artist David Mach and 34 bricklayers. When plans for the project were finalised two years ago designers selected Nori bricks, manufactured at Marshall's Clay Products, Whinney Hill, Accrington, for their strength and durability.

The design blends industry with the environment as included in the sculpture are 20 "bat" bricks. Train is hollow inside and the special bricks are formed with large gaps, enabling bats to fly inside and roost.

Spokesperson for Marshall's Rachel Brown said: "Accrington Nori bricks were chosen for the sculpture because they are the strongest bricks in the industry.

"It's an unusual structure which needed bricks strong enough to overhang one another."

They were taken from Accrington to Darlington by road last November when construction work started.

Train was a project commissioned by Darlington Council and funded jointly by Morrisons Supermarkets, Northern Arts and lottery cash.

The amazing locomotive has been sited next to Darlington's Morrisons supermarket.

It was officially unveiled by Lord Palumbo of Walbrook.

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