A replacement for a much-loved wooden artwork in Ellesmere’s Cremorne Gardens has taken shape – and should be on show in time for the Easter bank holiday weekend.

The original sculpture, spelling out the word Sshhh, had to be removed last year because the lime wood had decayed.

Sculptor John Merrill, from Glyn Ceiriog, has been putting the finishing touches to a new version, which he has carved in longer-lasting oak.

It is due to be installed in the tranquil woodland next to the mere at the same spot, known as ‘Sshhh corner, where the old one stood for nearly eight years.

The Sheffield-born artist, who has gained a national reputation for his work, hit on the idea of Sshhh after a walk around the mere with pupils and staff from Ellesmere Primary School.

A community fundraising effort involving local businesses has raised money towards the £3,500 cost of the replacement.

Len Graham, chairman of the Ellesmere Sculpture Initiative, which has developed a sculpture trail around the mere and nearby canal, said “Sshhh has been one of the most popular attractions for local residents and visitors to the mere and many people were genuinely upset and disappointed when the original sculpture had to be taken away.

“Children loved climbing over the wooden lettering and it was a popular place for friends and families to meet up, take photographs and enjoy picnics. Now we hope the new Sshhh will give as much, if not more pleasure than the old one.

“We are very grateful to everyone who has helped with fundraising. It’s been a terrific effort, with so many businesses, organisations and individual members of the community supporting the project.

“ We feel the development of the sculpture trail over the past 10 years has helped in drawing more visitors to the town and boosting the local economy. Restoring Sshhh to its rightful place will hopefully encourage even more people to come and sample the delights of Ellesmere.”