23 December 2015

Two exciting new sculptures have been installed on Sheffield’s Spital Hill to link several related strands of the area’s history.

The sculptures are made from stainless steel inlaid with bronze and mosaic.  They are part of an overall regeneration scheme to improve the Spital Hill  area.  This has included shop-front improvements, new paving and a reshaping of Ellesmere Green to provide a community pocket park.

The first sculpture in Vestry Square is at the historic heart of Spital Hill and creates a focal point for the square.   Another piece of artwork is located at Caborn’s Corner – just a few metres from the birthplace of Harry Brearley, the inventor of stainless steel.  It marks the point on Carlisle Street from where George Caborn led many marches and rallies in the cause of trades union rights and anti-racism during the 1970s.

The form of the sculptures is reminiscent of the ‘pour’ of molten steel from a furnace and the details reflect the industry of Sheffield’s East End and the life of George Caborn (1916-85) the father of Richard Caborn the former Sheffield Central MP and Cabinet Minister.

George was a life-long political activist, trades unionist, shop steward and later District Secretary of the Amalgamated Engineering Union who worked at the Firth Brown Steelworks just down the hill on Brightside Lane.  This was also the company where Harry Brearley (1871-1948) first invented stainless steel, a world-beating material which became synonymous with Sheffield.

Artist Michael Johnson said: “It has been a privilege to work in a community that is so accepting of ideas and willing to give their time and hospitality.

“I have worked closely with local people to develop the ideas behind the sculptures.  Each is made from a series of threads, perhaps symbolising the different individuals or diverse communities that make up Spital Hill joined together in a knot.

“Through their materials and details they reflect both the industrial history and current communities of the area.”

Local ward councillor Jackie Drayton added: Local ward councillor Jackie Drayton added: “For me these beautiful sculptures represent the strong thread that runs through our wonderful community, from its steel heritage, the genius of Harry Brierley and his inventions, the steel workers and tireless campaigning of George Caborn and others for social justice, to our diverse community with its threads to all around the world.

“The knots are there to remind us never to forget the past with the threads leading us on to our ambition for the future – building a vibrant and welcoming community, and Spital Hill continues to be an exciting place to live, work, visit, shop and eat in.”

Sheffield’s Lord Mayor, Councillor Talib Hussain also attended the launch of the sculptures and commented: “These sculptures create distinctive features on Spital Hill to local people and visitors.  They were designed in co-operation with the local community and certainly enhance this busy gateway into the city.”

Major works to upgrade the paving and street furniture along the Spital Hill District Centre and the very successful refurbishment of Ellesmere Green were finished last year.  The recent Shop Front improvement Scheme has also improved the appearance of the area and supported the many small independent traders from a wide range of cultures.

Local ward councillor Ibrar Hussain was enthusiastic about the regeneration of the Spital Hill area.  He said: “There has been considerable investment in the Spital Hill area over the last two years improving the quality of the area and helping to make it into a thriving district centre that is not only better for the local community, but is attracting shoppers from a wider area.”

The sculptures have been funded through planning agreements with Tesco, following the development of their store on Savile Street, and Arches Housing.