Category Archives: architecture

The Reveal Continues (via SVR)

Spodden Valley Revealed Project Manager, Diana Hamilton, brings us up to date with the latest landscape improvement works.

Following the works at Cowm Reservoir (read all about that here), our SVR capital programme has been upgrading elements along the greenway and some of the spurs that lead off into the landscape. The works will help increase access and improve the spaces where the Spodden Valley stories of the landscape will be revealed and told through a variety of creative methods, including: artist installations; audio; performances; printed and online guides.

Read more on the Spodden Valley Revealed blog…

Singing Ringing Tree Videos On YouTube

There are lots of videos on YouTube created by people who visited the Singing Ringing Tree, we thought we’d share some of them with you.  If you would like to suggest any videos for this list please email: with a link.

Singing Ringing Tree (c) Andy Ford

Film maker Video title
Inside a pixel Singing Ringing Tree Burnley – (Panopticons) – Time lapse video
RailMon The Singing, Ringing Tree
Jonathan brind Singing Ringing Tree
TheHiddender Singing Ringing Tree, Lancashire, England [Hiddener 不是熱點遊]
Jazeuk1 Singing Ringing Tree burnley Lancashire
Welcome The Singing Ringing Tree
Tony Tickle Singing Ringing Tree Panopticon
ToMYDSGN’s channel Поющее дерево от Tonkin Liu
Huckleberry Films The Singing Ringing Tree
Countryside Walking The Singing Ringing Tree – Panopticon Burnley


A Song for Singing Ringing Tree

The East Lancashire Clarion Choir climbed up to Crown Point one weekend to sing under the Singing Ringing Tree.  This song, written by choir member Henry Peacock  records their adventure.  Thank you to Henry and the Choir for sharing it with us.  It’s meant to be sung like a sea shanty…

Singing Ringing Tree (c) Andy Ford

The Singing Ringing Tree

Mortals in a pilgrim band

Underneath the singing ringing tree

Climbing to the Promised Land

Underneath the Singing Ringing Tree

Hear the tunes the breezes bring

Underneath the Singing Ringing Tree

Hear the songs the angels sing

Underneath the Singing Ringing Tree

 Singing tree! Oh ringing tree!

Underneath the Singing Ringing Tree

Look back to the town below

Underneath the Singing Ringing Tree

Leave behind your earthly woe

Underneath the Singing Ringing Tree

 Weekday work lies far away

Underneath the Singing Ringing Tree

See the hares run and deer play

Underneath the Singing Ringing Tree

Singing tree! Oh ringing tree!

Underneath the Singing Ringing Tree

 Now the air is growing clear

Underneath the Singing Ringing Tree

Every step brings heaven near

Underneath the Singing Ringing Tree

This is where free souls belong

Underneath the Singing Ringing Tree

Join the angels in their song

Underneath the Singing Ringing Tree

Singing tree! Oh ringing tree!

Underneath the Singing Ringing Tree


A deconstructed apple crumble…

David Smith our Creative Learning Coordinator visits the South Coast…

I was enjoying a meal with my family in a Brighton restaurant just over a week ago.  I didn’t recognise one of the dishes on the dessert menu so I asked the waiter what it was. “It’s a deconstructed apple crumble,” he said.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Well…” a note of impatience was edging into his demeanour, “…the crumble, the apple and the custard are arranged in a non-conventional way,” he replied.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because…” there was a pause – he needed thinking time. “…we sell more of them this way than if it was conventional.”

I ordered a black coffee.

The next day conventional David was in the Olympic Park clutching tickets for women’s handball in the Copper Box arena when I was confronted by Anish Kapoor’s ‘Orbit’.  “What do you think of it Dad?” my sons asked in unison putting me on the spot.  They think that I am meant to know about these things.

in orbit

in orbit

I didn’t answer.  I walked up to it; I walked round it; I looked up and down it.  I didn’t pay the £15 to go to the top of it.

It really did make me think of the apple crumble: it is London’s 21st. century answer to Paris! It is a deconstructed Eiffel Tower!  It is a swirl of ideas and has the fun feel of a giant helter-skelter. Yes it is wild, it is challenging and it provokes just as our Panopticons did in Pennine Lancashire. When it is lit at night it becomes something else – like our ‘Halo’; almost alive!

I’ve always liked Anish Kapoor ever since I bought a bedside table lamp designed by him – where did I buy it?  In an exhibition in the Mid Pennine Gallery in Burnley!  What a connection!

tear-drop bedside lamp by Anish Kapoor

The artworks and architecture of the Olympic Park have not had the attention they deserve. Everyone knows about he spectacular Velodrome (design team leader Mike Hopkins) but the Aquatics Centre (designed by Zaha Hadid), will be just as spectacular.  It doesn’t get the same publicity because it has two temporary ends which obscure its beauty.  They will be dismantled over the next 12 months.  At that point it will rival the Velodrome.  Everywhere you go the whole site has been given the feel of a park by imaginative wild flower planting. Even temporary structures like the white, puffy, cloud-like basketball arena are striking.

wild flower planting

wild flower planting

Branding is not allowed in the Olympic Park – can you imagine it: a world sporting event with no branding when major funders have put in millions? Well, Coca-cola, (mention Pepsi and your mouth will be washed out with soap and water), funded the Beat Box which is so visually exciting and mystifying it smacks you in the face.  Hundreds of interlocking red and white plastic panels forming an ice-like crystal. The most creative piece of going beyond the brand I have ever seen!  Google it!

Back to Brighton for an evening meal with friends.  “I hope you like the dessert, it’s a deconstructed gooseberry cheese cake!”

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

MPA Creative Director Nick Hunt reflects on a five-year milestone for the Singing Ringing Tree…

Don’t time fly!  I hadn’t realised quite how swiftly, until the Christmas card from the Chief Exec of Burnley Council brought it to mind.

The official municipal card was exploiting a suitably seasonal photo of the Tree in its Siberian winter setting, with a pile of presents sketched in around the base.  This playful bit of graffiti might have been tailor-made to offend the impeccably minimalist design sensibilities of its creators, the inspired architect duo Tonkin Liu, but at MPA we are still inclined to be delighted whenever a Panopticon gets a bit of extra exposure.

Reflecting fondly on how often that happens with this particular, much-loved landmark, I suddenly realised that the fifth birthday of the Singing Ringing Tree had slipped past in December without us noticing.  Damn!  We should have been celebrating…

The Singing Ringing Tree was the third of the Panopticons series to be commissioned and built, in a very productive partnership with Burnley Borough Council.  It was unveiled in December 2006, with two coachloads of special guests ferried up to the site and bent nearly double to keep their feet in the face of the howling gales.  Back in the car park at Crown Point, the big executive coaches were rocking side to side as if about to capsize.  But this delicate little landmark survived its crazy launch day, and has not looked back since.

You can catch the wind-buffeted flavour of that day, and the story of the construction of the Tree as a ‘giant Meccano set’ , in Roger Appleton’s film of the project:

The Panopticons project  was intended to encourage folk to use the landscape on their doorsteps, to discover spectacular new views of Pennine Lancashire, and to explore further the rugged splendours of our area.  More than this, it was designed to create positive images to project out into the wider world, and transform perceptions about our locale.

The Singing Ringing Tree has delivered on all of this, with knobs on.  Burnley Council and people promoting Pennine Lancashire both make fulsome use of this very photogenic icon in all their promotional stuff.  Images of the Tree have whizzed around the world.  Millions of YouTube users have viewed viral videos of the Tree and its song.

And this momentum is not slowing down.  In 2011 we’ve had features of the Panopticons on two network TV shows – a lovely feature on Flog It! and another on Country Tracks.  The Tree has featured in audio and image in the Berlin fashion mag Sleek and its covermount CD.  And the new edition of our local OS map – guess what it has on the cover!

This is the gift that keeps on giving.  And what a gift it was.  By happy coincidence, that launch day in December 2006 was also the 80th birthday of the Tree’s first benefactor, Sir Simon Towneley, who had identified the site, donated use of it, and worked tirelessly to help us locate the extra funds we needed.  He also recruited our second benefactor, his son Peregrine Towneley, whose immensely generous contribution made it possible for us to balance the books and to complete this dream of a project.

So happy 85th birthday Sir Simon, thanks again Peregrine, and here’s to the next half decade.

More information for planning your visit at: