Could reviving a robot family rekindle spirit of Stevenage new town?

Simon Axford Jones, Town Artist with Andy Hills, Architect and Pauline Maryan, volunteer at Stevenag

Simon Axford Jones, Town Artist with Andy Hills, Architect and Pauline Maryan, volunteer at Stevenage Museum, with the sculptures - Credit: Archant

An architect is hoping the community spirit which united people from all over Stevenage 40 years ago can be rekindled.

The sculptures

The sculptures - Credit: Archant

Simon Axford Jones was a 27-year-old artist working for the now-defunct Stevenage Development Corporation when he designed the town’s famous robot family, playing cards and clock sculptures in Bude Crescent in 1975.

After creating them, Simon went on to work with Stevenage Borough Council and people living in the town to make and paint the artwork.

At the time, Andy Hills was a 20-year-old trainee architect at the corporation, and was inspired to take on a restoration project after getting back in touch with Simon.

He said: “We want to restore them to their former glory.

“It will involve repainting them and is a great opportunity to work with people in the community to achieve that.”

Andy, now 57, tried to get back in touch with Simon in 2011 as a part of a project to find the designers of Stevenage’s new town sculptures. He heard nothing, but in April this year Simon made contact.

Most Read

“He was very interested and agreed to come up from his home in Sussex to see the sculptures,” said Andrew.

“Firstly we need the council’s permission to do the work. Then we need to look at what needs to be done and work with the council and community and plan what to do. Then we can finally do it.”

Andy feels the community’s role in the last project added a whole new dimension to the work and thinks it will also be a key factor in the restoration bid.

“I’m urging anyone with memories of it to get in touch,” he said.

“I think the sculptures carry a real sense of place here, which is important especially for new towns like Stevenage which has been criticised for being a little bit drab.”

Do you have memories of the sculptures? If so, email

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter