PMSA National Recording Project - South Yorkshire

Rotherham Metropolitan Borough

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ArtistMaker: THOMSON, Jason
TitleOfWork: 'The Monster of Birch Wood'
DescriptionOfPhoto: Detail: head of the monster
DateOfCreation: 2002
Dimensions: Side of bridge: 210cm high x 360cm long x 60cm wide; Head: 40cm high x 15cm wide x 30cm deep
Medium: CorTEN steel
Location: At the junction of two paths in Birch Wood
AtoZReference: p.55 5F
Street: Hague Avenue
TownOrVillage: Rawmarsh
AreaInTown: Birch Wood
MetropolitanBorough: Rotherham
Photographer: Dave Ball
ImageCopyright: Sheffield Hallam University
AccessionNumber: r059f
Location: At the junction of two paths in Birch Wood, near Warren Vale. Access from an alleyway between 158 and 160 Hague Avenue; turn left and the bridge is within 100m.

Description: A bridge over a small stream. The floor of the bridge is a slightly curved metal plate. The two sides of the bridge combine to depict a dragon-like shape; one side has the head head, the other the dragon's tail. The inner faces of the bridge sides are flat, the outer faces curved with rib-like structures; part decorative, part functional. Each bridge side has a curved top edge, the monster's back, which follows the curve of the bridge floor itself. A tail protrudes from one side of the bridge on one bank, while a cast head appears on the other side of the bridge on the opposite bank. The whole bridge is supported by stone pillars built into the banks on either side of the stream.

Inscriptions: A bench opposite the bridge has the following along its side: Fuelling a Revolution - the Woods that Founded the Steel Industry.
Funding details are inscribed on the top of the bench at its right hand end: Funded by the / Heritage Lottery Fund // Rotherham / Metropolitan / Borough Council

Commission: Funded by the Heritage Woodlands Programme Fuelling the Revolution and Rotherham Council's Engineering Section. The Council had been due to replace a delapidated wooden bridge on this site when, co-incidentally, Mark Yates of the Heritage Woodlands Programme approached them with suggestions for an artwork funded by an existing environmental artworks grant. This enhanced funding allowed a more ambitious structure to be installed. The final costs for the bridge came to between 13,000 and 14,000
The fabricators were Mayflower Engineering of Sheffield and casting was by H. Downs & Sons Ltd, Iron Founders of Huddersfield.
Initially The British Association of Blacksmith Artists was approached for submissions, but subsequently Jason Thomson was also asked to submit designs for the bridge. Some education work had already been carried out with Rawmarsh Thorogate Primary School in the woods, introducing them to the history, geography and contents of the woods. They had also worked with an another artist producing work inspired by the woods. After his selection Jason Thomson led some workshops with pupils from the school during which the idea of possible monsters in the woods developed. The final design for bridge came from this idea of a monster but also from other elements of local history: Viking longboats and the Roman presence in the area. [2]

Comment: CorTEN steel will in time develop a protective layer of rust on the outside of the metal. This process is progressing satisfactorily at present but is not yet complete.

References: [1] Sheffield Star: April 17th, 2003. p.18
[2] telephone interview with Mark Yates: 3/10/2003

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Photographer Dave Ball (unless indicated otherwise above)
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Last updated September 18, 2006