Home News Local News Monklands News

Mark Millar opens Coatbridge superhero archway

Mark Millar and the Captain Coatbridge superhero archway

HIS stories have seen Superman and Batman save Metropolis and Gotham City – but Mark Millar is proud that Captain Coatbridge is now putting his home town on the map.

Last week, the comic book creator helped unveil a superhero archway beside the Monkland Canal that was created by renowned sculptor Andy Scott, with help from St Ambrose High.

Millar is a former student of the school and when Higher Art pupils were asked to come up with a theme for the six-metre-high public art, they were inspired by his superhero stories.

Mark Millar meets a young Superman fan

Speaking to youngsters and other guests as the Blair Road sculpture was unveiled on Friday, he said: “The location means a lot to me; this street is my whole life.

“My mum and dad were born there on Bank Street, my daughter was born three doors up from here on Blair Road, I went to school just along the road at St Ambrose’s and all my family lived in Townhead – that’s where I spent the first half of my life.

“It’s great, I’m delighted and I feel really privileged and thankful for people thinking of me.

“I love the idea of Coatbridge being associated with something global like superhero comics and films, and it’s a great honour.

“I’d like to say thanks to the St Ambrose guys who suggested me. I’m really chuffed.

“To me, Coatbridge was always connected with superheroes. I would buy my Spider-Man comics from Carlin’s or Russo’s further up the street – and Rankin’s paper shop.

“I love the idea that it’s not just me who thinks of Coatbridge as a superhero place now.”

Millar made his name in the comics industry writing acclaimed runs on characters like Superman, Spider-Man, the X-Men and the Fantastic Four before breaking out on his own with record-breaking titles like Wanted and Kick-Ass.

These two creator-owned titles from his MillarWorld company were turned into hit movies that grossed around $440million at the worldwide box office and top directors like Tony Scott are lined up to helm six other films.

So when the St Ambrose pupils were asked to come up with a theme for the sculptural steel archway they took their inspiration from Millar and the archway features Captain Coatbridge and two female superheroes holding the moon, stars and sun aloft.

The town’s industrial heritage is also featured and it was all put together by Scott, the man behind the Heavy Horse and Three Heids on the M8.

The archway, along with new landscaping, creates a new gateway at Blair Road onto the Monkland Canal so that people can walk, run and cycle alongside it.

Coatbridge Councillor Jim Brooks, chair of the town’s Local Area Partnership, also helped cut the ribbon on Friday and said: “This new archway highlights not only the recent improvement works done in Coatbridge, but also the town’s industrial heritage and bright future.

“Coatbridge has twice been voted Best Small City by Beautiful Scotland. This project will help us build on that achievement and continue to make Coatbridge a town we can all be proud of.”

Richard Millar, the development manager with British Waterways Scotland, added: "This is a great day for all the community groups, schoolchildren and funding partners who have worked hard with the Monkland Canal Steering Group to create this stunning new gateway which really signals the changing face of this forgotten waterway.

"It is wonderful to see how everyone has taken pride in and embraced this formerly unloved and uncared for asset; not only designing this new gateway but also beginning a raft of additional innovative and exciting projects which will bring the Monkland Canal back to life and give it a real future as a valued community space."

THE superhero archway was made possible by the Monkland Canal Steering Group.

Established in 2008, they are trying to revitalise what was the most successful of Scotland’s five canals.

In its 19th century heyday, the 12-mile canal moved more than one million tonnes of coal and iron ore every year. The world’s first iron boat, The Vulcan, was launched from there.

New initiatives include the Drumpellier Circular Walk, with a viewing platform designed by children at St Kevin’s and Bargeddie Primaries, an upgraded entrance to the Sikeside stretch and a new gateway at Calderbank designed by the village’s schoolchildren.

The superhero archway is  six metres high and 7.3m across and evokes the history of the canal, which opened in 1794.

Images of foundrymen, cranes, smoke and chains are represented, as well as Mother Nature, who is surrounded by birds, animals and insects which now inhabit the once-industrial landscape. The three superheroes stand in the centre welcoming visitors into the Blair Road area of the canal.

Monklands Canal Steering Group are made up of organisations including British Waterways, North Lanarkshire Council, The Waterways Trust Scotland. Central Scotland Forestry Trust and Summerlee Museum.

Mark Millar speaking to the crowd
Councillor Jim Brooks, MSP Elaine Smith and Mark Millar do the ribbon-cutting honours
Having fun on the canal
Find us on Facebook