Crowds gathered outside Wimbledon station yesterday to watch the unveiling of a 10ft stag sculpture.

The £20,000 work of art, made of 25mm thick steel, was installed as part of the final stages of a £2.5m town centre improvement project.

‘Destination Wimbledon’, a project to revamp the town centre, was funded by Transport for London as part of the Mayor of London’s Better Streets Initiative, Network Rail and South West Trains.

The stag was privately funded by developers as part of an arts fund for the area and was designed to symbolise Wimbledon’s Iron Age past and relationship with the common.

The creator, artist Isabelle Southwood, said: “Many people have asked ‘Why a stag?’ “It was my aim to link the town and village historically, architecturally and socially – in a way that residents of Wimbledon would be able to recognise, reminding them of the heritage of their town”.

Councillor David Williams, Mayor of Merton, said: “We are proud to welcome the Stag to Wimbledon.

“We hope he will be as affectionately regarded as the Two Fat Ladies and become an iconic meeting place for years to come.”

Councillor Stephen Alambritis, leader of Merton council, said: “As residents of the London Borough of Merton we are blessed to have both urban and rural surroundings on our doorstep.

“The Stag is the perfect way to remind us that when we have finished our shopping among the hustle and bustle of our vibrant town centre, we can wander up the hill and enjoy the peace and calm of Wimbledon Common.”

Those at the unveiling were entertained by dance troupe, Dancebites, and were provided with cakes and coffee by Kaldi Coffee.

Thousands of visitors are expected to pass through Wimbledon Station over the Championship fortnight and Olympic Games later this summer.

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