Sheffield Tinsley towers-inspired art project key to economic regeneration plan needs £865,000 funding

One of the flagship ‘crown jewels’ projects for a new Sheffield culture initiative is still looking for £865,000 of funding.

Tuesday, 22nd June 2021, 11:59 am

The canalside art trail at Tinsley, inspired by the old Tinsley cooling towers and the area’s industrial heritage, includes a big sculpture based on an industrial chimney at an old pump house that is meant to be seen from the M1.

It will look like it is fragmenting and will be one of four chimneys on the trail.

The idea is for the sculpture to be seen from the motorway as a ‘Gateway to the North’, a briefing document on the project says.

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Artist Alex Chinneck's impression of how his chimney sculpture will look

The art trail was named by the Sheffield Culture Collective as one of four key projects that will spearhead the public-private partnership’s newly-launched blueprint for culture and creativity to boost the city’s economic recovery from the effects of the pandemic.

The others are for a cultural and arts hub at Park Hill that will include a sculpture park, a city centre base for music education called Harmony Works and a new focus on the Central Library and Graves Art Gallery.

Internationally-known artist Alex Chinneck designed Onwards and Upwards in 2017. The series of four 100ft red-brick chimney stacks will run along the Sheffield and Tinsley Canal, starting close to the M1 flyover near Meadowhall where the cooling towers once stood.

Denise Vickers and her son Riley have a close look at the knotted postbox sculpture Alphabetti Spaghetti by artist Alex Chinneck which appeared on Norborough Road, Tinsley in September 2019

The project started in 2008, when the towers near Meadowhall were demolished. Alex has already created two temporary artworks in Tinsley – a knotted pillar box and an upside-down car that looked like it was hanging from a piece of road – that went on show in the area.

A briefing document about the Tinsley Art Project says: “There is a real desire to see this project come to fruition. The Tinsley Cooling Towers once dominated the local skyline and to many were a symbol of home.

“Over the years the project has been developed working with and alongside the local Tinsley community, many of whose families first came to Sheffield to work in the steel industry.

“Whilst a contemporary artwork, the design is rooted in the history and heritage of the area.”

But the document says the cost of the complete project is £2m and it currently has private sector funding of £1,135,000, leaving a shortfall of £865,000.

The project suffered setbacks when it missed out on a share of the Government’s £15m Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund and the pandemic caused a further delay. Last year a new start date of March 2022 was announced by the city council.

Last week (June 17) the council said: “Project deadlines are dependent on funding but we are determined to use the momentum of the Culture Collective’s support to set the first chimney in the historic pump house setting.”

Coun Julie Grocutt, city council deputy leader and executive member for community engagement and governance, commented: “We are working on finding the additional funding required, via grants and the private sector, and are continuing to aim for a March 2022 start on site.

"In the meantime, we will be applying for planning permission. The construction plans for the Cracked Chimney have been fully developed and are in place, and will showcase cutting-edge engineering techniques.’

The strategy document says that the Canal and River Trust is leading bids to secure Heritage Lottery and other funding and seeking more corporate sponsorship.

Part of the project is a three-year engagement programme, working with members of the local community, who have already been involved in its development.