GRAND plans for an eye-catching mural of a Warrington rugby league legend on the side of a historic pub have been approved.

Warrington Borough Council has given its blessing for the art installation of Paul Cullen at The Kings Head pub, near the Halliwell Jones Stadium in the town centre.

This was required due to the pub being a historic, Grade II-listed building that was previously a coaching inn after being built at the end of the 19th century.

In planning documents, applicant Warrington Arts Council said it would commission Old Hall artist Anthony Turk – renowned for his Warrington Pink Eye work – for the Paul Cullen piece.

It went on to say: “This will be the first of many heritage and artistic mural on walls around Warrington as part of a new Warrington initiative.

“This long term ‘Art and About in Warrington’ initiative is being promoted by Warrington Arts Council, and we are currently working with the Warrington BID, Warrington Youth Zone, Culture Warrington and other partners and established artists to deliver the project in a fast, tasteful and cost-effective manner.

“We are looking to continue to attract as many organisations as possible to get involved as the project gathers more publicity.

“We want to make sure that wherever you are standing in Warrington town centre, you can see, hear or experience in other ways some form of art and culture.”

On the location and subject choice, Warrington Arts Council wrote: “The Kings Head is a public house that is regularly frequented by rugby fans and is especially lively on match days.

“For this reason, we are looking at the rugby side of Warrington's heritage as inspiration for this first piece of art in the series.

“The subject of this mural will be Paul Cullen – a true Warringtonian inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2016.

“Born in Orford, he made 350 appearances for Warrington over his 17-year career. He became the coach and was key in saving Warrington from relegation in the last game of the 2003 season.

The mural will be of Paul Cullen following the final game at Wilderspool

The mural will be of Paul Cullen following the final game at Wilderspool

“This crucially retained Warrington's Super League status while the new stadium was being proposed.

“This mural will be of the iconic image of him saluting the fans on that day of that season which was also to be the last match at Wilderspool – the last day of 101 years of club history before the new chapter started at the new stadium.

“Due to the pub's popularity, view from Central Station and proximity to the Halliwell Jones, this mural will be there as a historical link to both grounds and remind both newcomers and regulars of the town's rugby heritage.”

A discreet but accessible QR code will be on the mural to link to the artist's reasoning behind the creation of the mural, and this will also then link to an interactive map of the town to view other murals, exhibits and installations as a walking tour which will increase and direct footfall around the town.

The scheme received two formal supportive comments from residents, as well as dozens on social media, praising the work as a ‘celebration of a local sporting figure and the wider rugby heritage of the town’.

It has also received the support of Paul himself, who told the Warrington Guardian: “I am honestly so, so proud and so, so humbled that anyone could possibly think that if they are going to do a mural that has got anything to do with Warrington Rugby League Club, that I would be a part of.

“Honestly, we could create an art installation here in Warrington, and I do understand that there are more people in Warrington than just ex rugby players.

“I have never in a million years put myself in the same category as legends of the club like John Bevan and Harry Bath and Brian Bevan and Jim Challinor, and then the modern-day greats.

“I'm just a lad from Orford who was so, so lucky to get the career that I did.

“I am sure there are people that contribute to the town and its economy in in fantastic ways, but it just shows that this one is to do with Warrington Rugby League Club, and that really does show where Warrington's heart is really.”

In approving the plans, the council said: “The proposed works to create a mural on this Grade II-listed building are on balance acceptable and comply with policy.”