‘This could be South Yorkshire’s Angel of the North’

Man of Steel, by Steve Mehdi
Man of Steel, by Steve Mehdi
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MEET Sheffield’s future Man of Steel – although at the moment he’s not much more than a lad.

A modest 2m model has been created of the sculpture which supporters say will be South Yorkshire’s answer to the Angel of the North.

It was put together at Sheffield University’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre under the direction of sculptor Steve Mehdi, who originally created it as a 30cm bronze figure.

The masterplan is to turn the blueprint into a giant 20m-high stainless steel figure sat atop an 18m coal-black column.

The future landmark will overlook the M1 motorway from a former landfill site near Catcliffe.

It is designed to pay tribute to South Yorkshire’s long history of steel and coal industries, while also reflecting the region’s 21st century strengths in advanced manufacturing and metals technology.

Steve said: “Man of Steel was inspired by the men and women I worked with in engineering in Sheffield, and the generations of people who worked in steel and coal across the region.

“The inspiration for a landmark version of the sculpture came from local people who first saw it in an exhibition of my work and said ‘this could be our Angel of the North’.

“This project honours the past and embraces the future, bringing together the heritage of the old industries and signposting the new technologies of the Sheffield city region.”

The idea has received strong support from local businesses and universities – but there is still a need to raise awareness of the project.

So Steve went to the AMRC to ask for help in producing a large model of the Man of Steel.

John Halfpenny, manufacturing engineer at the Boeing Composite Centre, managed production of the model.

He said: “This was a totally different project to our usual work – it’s nothing like what we’ve done before.

“But it’s good to work on something that’s potentially going to be in Sheffield for 200 years.”

The model is made from polyurethane resin board, a material normally used for creating prototypes and models of automotive and aerospace structures.

The final figure was produced in eight parts over several months.

The assembled model will now be given a stainless metal coating, and mounted on a 2m column made by Sheffield-based Tool and Steel Products.

The finished work will be on show at the AMRC during the Global Manufacturing Festival in April, which commemorates the centenary of stainless steel’s discovery by Sheffield metallurgist Harry Brearley.

It will also be exhibited at the Magna Science Centre in Rotherham and Kelham Island Museum in Sheffield.

What do you think about the Man of Steel statue plans?

Email: letters@thestar.co.uk