King’s Lynn’s Half Fathoms

Visitors to King’s Lynn who park on the South Quay are often mystified by the thin, bendy shape that reaches over six meters towards the sky. What is it? Does it serve a purpose? Why is it here?

Half Fathoms Sculpture, King’s Lynn Photo © James Rye 2021

It has been known – perhaps affectionately, perhaps cheekily – as Lynn’s Twiglet. However, such a title doesn’t do justice to the iconographical sculpture that was given to the town in 2000 by the local businessman and sculptor, Andrew Schumann.

Once you can understand the creator’s thinking, you can immediately see how integral the work is, both the the quay where it stands, and to the town itself. It was designed to encapsulate the river.

The Grade II Listed object is a bronze and stainless steel column (6.2m high, by 41cm diameter), on a blue clipsham limestone base. It has a solar powered LED light which flashes at night.

The six middle sections are half fathoms, so the total height of three fathoms (six half fathoms) represents the distance between high and low tides on the River Great Ouse. The ripples suggest the surface of the water and the flashing light recalls the blinking of the warning buoys on the Wash.

The importance of the river to the town should not be underestimated. See here.

© James Rye 2021

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