The Yorkshire Man of Steel
A brand new 32 metre high sculpture which commemorates Yorkshire’s industrial history is being planned. The new artwork, named The Yorkshire Man of Steel will stand on a former landfill site near Rotherham. It will be accompanied by a visitor centre, cafe’ and educational facilities to teach future generations about the different industries which once dominated the region.
The seeds of the idea came back in 2008 when the old Tinsley Towers were demolished. These iconic structures were once a prominent landmark for those leaving the county on the M1 Southbound and those entering Yorkshire travelling north. It was decided that something else should be built to act as a “gateway” to the region. A giant sculpture was seen as the ideal way to mark the area.
The Yorkshire Man of Steel will be created by local artist, Steve Mehdi, using natural materials sourced from the local area. He has already made a smaller version, which was created originally to commemorate the people he had worked with in the steel industry and generations past. This bronze sculpture received much public acclaim and it was decided that a giant version of his creation should be used. The sculpture aims to be both a landmark and tourist attraction, which aims to emulate the success of the “Angel of the North” in Gateshead.
The Yorkshire Heart of Steel
Another sculpture designed by Steve Mehdi is the Yorkshire heart of steel. This is a 2.5 tonne, 2.5 metre high stainless steel heart. The project has teamed up with the British Heart Foundation for this part of the project. The heart sculpture will bear the names of 150,000 people from across the region, many of who have worked in the steel coal and engineering industries. These can be bought for £20 with 10% of all proceeds going directly to the British Heart Foundation. Eventually the heart will be inserted inside the Man of Steel when it is completed and placed on the site. Already thousands of people have made donations from across the world and have received a “Heart of steel” certificate and stainless steel badge. This part of the the project aims to raise £3m, with ten per cent going to the charity.
The Man of Steel project aims to generate income for the Rotherham area through tourism to the site once it is completed. A report by another of the project’s partners, Sheffield Hallam University has predicted the new attraction will boost the local economy by £9 million per year. The success of the Angel of the North, another industrial sculpture in Gateshead has helped to rejuvenate the area. There have been several other projects which have been funded off the back of the sculpture, such as the BALTIC Centre for Contempoary Art, a £1bn investment in Gateshead Quays and the creation of 6,000 jobs in the area. It is hoped that the Man of Steel Project will have a similar effect for the town of Rotherham.
The Man of Steel will commemorate the generations of industrial workers who helped to make Yorkshire the workshop of the world. Generations of families in South Yorkshire, who worked in the steel, coal, glass and engineering industries will have a constant reminder of their cultural identity. The sculpture does not just celebrate the past, but also looks to the future. The South Yorkshire area has a growing digital technology sector and these new industries are gradually replacing the old.
The Man of Steel project has teamed up with both the Sheffield Univerities and Rotherham College to provide educational facilities for the new site. This will cover the history and development of the area; plus the work in which generations of people put in to make South Yorkshire one of the great industrial areas in the North of England.
When will it be open?
Work on the site is due to begin later this year (2016) with the sculpture raised and open to the public in 2017.
For more information on the Yorkshire man of steel project click on www.yorkshiremanofsteel.com.
To buy an inscribed name within the Heart of steel visit www.yorkshiremanofsteel.com/heart-of-steel