'I love you will u marry me' graffiti no more as iconic Sheffield building's famous proposal disappears

A spray-painted sentence of graffiti that has become synonymous with one of Sheffield’s most well-known buildings has disappeared.

Monday, 8th February 2021, 5:10 pm
Updated Tuesday, 9th February 2021, 12:12 pm

Park Hill’s ‘I love you will u marry me’ footbridge has been inextricably linked with the 1960s Grade II listed brutalist complex since it first appeared in the early 2000s.

The bridge has recently been extensively refurbished as part of the development’s ongoing renovation, and when it was finally unveiled last week, the graffiti had gone.

However, a spokesperson for Urban Splash confirmed that the graffiti was only removed to allow essential repair work on the bridge to take place.

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The "graffiti bridge" has become one of Sheffield's most unusual landmarks.
The "graffiti bridge" has become one of Sheffield's most unusual landmarks.

They added that it woud be replaced in exactly the same place ‘in consultation with all concerned’.

The story of how the graffiti first appeared on the bridge has become the stuff of Sheffield legend.

Originally reading ‘Clare Middleton I love you will u marry me’, over the years the sentence’s first two words faded to leave the slogan in its later form.

Clare was a local resident in the early 2000s when her then boyfriend, who has only ever been named as Jason, made the marriage proposal in 2001.

The Park Hill bridge, minus the famous graffiti (photo: Sam Feeley).

But Clare split up with Jason three months after the graffiti appeared and later died of cancer in 2007 at the age of just 30.

When Manchester-based developer Urban Splash began renovating the building in the late 2000s, the graffiti was highlighted in neon and used extensively in the firm’s marketing campaigns.

The move attracted criticism with some suggesting the company had insensitively intruded into a family’s grief and others accusing the firm of ‘fetishising’ poverty.

Current residents at the complex were yesterday divided on whether the graffiti should be brought back.

Some thought it was both a city landmark and an important part of the building’s history which should be cherished.

But others felt that given the graffiti’s tragic backstory it was best consigned to the history books.

Phase I of Urban Splash’s renovation of the vast site comprising around 300 flats was completed in 2013, while the 356 student flats of Phase III were finished last autumn.

Phase II, another 200 residential units, is due to open in autumn 2021.

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