Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

A-Maizing Maze

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

A-Maizing Maze

Article excerpt

Byline: Keith Newton

I counted them out and half-an-hour later I am counting them back. "What is it like?" I ask. "Amazing," they say.

They would, wouldn't they? The dozen or so

ten and 11-year-olds are completing the testing challenge of the world's biggest maize maze.

They have gone through from start to finish, negotiating its fiendish twists, turns, tricks and talking statues in just 30 minutes.

Another half-an-hour and more youngsters are still emerging triumphant. "What about the adults?" I wonder.

"They're still lost inside," declares one chirpy female who seems amused and relieved that her man is among them.

Maize mazes are a phenomenon of recent times. Where once mazes were privet hedges, fences, brick constructions or a host of other easily organised devices, now they are the fast growing corn.

Farmer Tom Pearcy creates his giants nextdoor to the Grimston Bar park and ride in the south-east of York and just a long carrier bag throw from the McArthur Glen shopping outlet.

This is the fourth year he has made a maze in his fields and his current one marks this November's 400th anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 by taking the shape of the Houses Of Parliament and Big Ben.

It covers an area of 24 acres, the size of 15 football pitches, making it more than seven acres larger than the current Guinness world record holder.

Tom always picks subjects associated with York for his maze design and last year went for the Flying Scotsman locomotive which had just been acquired by the city's National Railway Museum.

"I chose my latest design because of the 400th anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot and the connection with the main plotter, Guy Fawkes, who came from York," he says.

Fawkes was caught red-handed with 36 barrels of gunpowder in a cellar under the Houses Of Parliament. His aim was to detonate the explosives at the state opening of Parliament, blowing up King James I and taking the whole of Parliament with him.

Farmer Tom has cut his maze from a vast field planted in May. He has used 1.5m plants and watched them grow to three metres.

The design for the pathways was cut last month and he opens it every July.

When he harvests the maize in September, he will use it to feed his Jersey cows. Meanwhile, it is setting a beast of a challenge.

At nearly 1,000ft tall, for instance, his Big Ben clock tower is three times the size of the real thing. Its home-grown clock face has a diameter of 200ft compared to the actual one's 23ft.

"We have also added a lot of new attractions this year," Tom says. "Visitors will get their clues from giant talking sculptures and we have built a crazy golf course in the maze."

The sculptures have been commissioned from world famous chainsaw artist Mick Burns.

"As children seem to love seeing our cows, we have a collection of different animals for them to meet, all of which like eating maize in one form or another," adds Tom. …

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