Sheffield pop heavyweights have their say on shock removal of iconic Park Hill graffiti

Two Sheffield pop stars have weighed in on the continuing battle over one of the city’s most famous bits of graffiti.

Thursday, 11th February 2021, 6:01 pm
Updated Thursday, 11th February 2021, 6:13 pm

Earlier this week, The Star reported that the two decade old ‘I love you will u marry me’ graffiti on a footbridge at Park Hill flats had disappeared.

The bridge has recently been refurbished as part of building owners Urban Splash’s multi-million pound redevelopment of the site, but when the scaffolding was removed the graffiti had gone.

Urban Splash later said the graffiti and a neon sign which sat over it had been removed for ‘structural reasons’ but promised that both would be brought back ‘in consultation with all concerned’.

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The famous 'I love you' graffiti has been removed at Park Hill flats in Sheffield.

But the row has intensified in recent days, with two of Sheffield's most famous musicians lamenting its passing while others suggesting it should be consigned to the history books.

One of those disappointed to see it go was former Pulp and Longpigs guitarist and current solo artist Richard Hawley, whose songs were used in Standing at the Sky’s Edge, a musical about the flats.

Speaking on Radio 4’s World at One programme on Wednesday, he said he had been ‘really angry’ when he heard the news, describing the graffiti as ‘romantic and lovely’.

And Nick Banks, the former drummer from Pulp, whose song Sheffield: Sex City references Park Hill flats, decsribed the removal as a ‘massive own goal’ for the developer.

Standing at the Sky's Edge launch at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield. Pictured is Richard Hawley. Picture: Chris Etchells

“I see it as a love note to Sheffield itself,” he said on Twitter. “Lost forever.”

The removal - temporary or otherwise - also attracted dozens of comments on social media including on the Star’s own Facebook page.

One of those commenting was Jason Lowe, the person who wrote the graffiti to his then girlfriend Clare Middleton in 2001, who later died of cancer in 2007.

He said he had initially been angry that it had been removed without his consent, but had now been reassured by Urban Splash that it would be recreated exactly as it was.

Former Pulp drummer, Nick Banks.

However, both Clare’s mother and sister posted on Facebook that they saw it as an unwelcome reminder of what had happened to her and should be removed.

And others suggested that the graffiti, far from being a symbol of Sheffield or Park Hill, was in fact more emblematic of the complex’s recent gentrification.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.