Hall Conservation Ltd

  • Before treatment.

  • Scaffolded ready for paint removal.

  • Close up of the top of the sculpture.

  • Hot sprayed aluminium layer found during paint analysis.

  • The sculpture repainted and being lifted onto a truck for transportation.

  • Sculpture ready for transportation to its new site

  • Sculpture installed in its new location.

Date:17 January, 2013

Project Information

Charles Sansbury (1916 – 1989) used industrial techniques to fabricate steel sculpture and in the 1970s, he was commissioned to create a sculpture to mark the beginning of the regeneration of Merthyr Tydfil. The iconography of the sculpture incorporates an earth-bound pit winding gear transforming into an over 12 m tall, light, soaring, glittering spire, but the regeneration foundered and the original site allocated for the sculpture was later deemed unsuitable. The sculpture was moved to a corner of the technical college car park, had a flagpole attached and was coated in bitumen paint and then bands of grey, green and red over that.

In 2006 a new regeneration of Merthyr Tydfil was underway and a celebratory sculpture was called for again, this time for the centre of a roundabout. The decision was taken to recycle the forlorn Charles Sansbury sculpture rather than commissioning a new one.

The original fixings had to be cut away to free the sculpture in situ, using two cranes in a synchronised lift, altered to suit the new site foundations, loaded onto the transport, moved to the new site on the Caedraw Roundabout and installed within a very tight time frame due to the limitations of the necessary road closure permits.

Paint analysis showed that the original finish was a bright aluminium layer, not a paint, but aluminium, hot sprayed in molten droplets onto the steel. The technique creates tiny spheres of aluminium that would originally have shimmered in the sunlight and blended ethereally into mists. When the paint and bitumen was removed, what remained of the aluminium coating was patchy and the steel corroded. Hot spray coating in situ was not possible and so a bright aluminium paint was used for refinishing.