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13 November 2014

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You are in: Manchester > Made In England > To B or not to B?

To B or not to B?

What now for the B of the Bang? The future of Manchester's spikey sculpture is hanging in the balance after a safety dispute between the council and its designers. So, can we fix it? Or is it time for the B of the Bulldozer?

B of the Bang

B of the Bang

The landmark piece of art was unveiled at Sportcity in 2005 to celebrate the success of the 2002 Commonwealth Games and has helped to put East Manchester on the map.

Yet, three years on, it remains fenced off minus nine of its spikes which had to be removed last year after one fell off.

After spending £300,000 to make it safe, council bosses threatened to sue the sculptor Thomas Heatherwick and his design team who, in November 2008, settled out of court to the tune of £1.7 million because of the safety problems.

Meanwhile, fellow sculptor Anthony Gormley has weighed into the debate urging Manchester City Council to 'hold its nerve' and describing the artwork is 'inspirational.'

An engineering survey is being carried out to see if the statue can be saved. That report is expected to go to the council's Executive committee in February 2009.

B of the Bang: facts

  • Made from 180 slender tapered spikes, it takes its name from Linford Christie's comment that he started a race on the ‘B’ of the Bang.
  • B of the Bang is 20 stories high and inclined at an angle of 30 degrees from the vertical.
  • At 184 feet (56m) tall and weighing in at 150 tonnes, B of the Bang dwarfs the Angel of the North (20m) and is three feet short of Nelson's column.
  • The design by Tom Heatherwick, a former student at Manchester Polytechnic, won a competition run by urban regeneration agency New East Manchester.
  • Its local nickname is 'Kerplunk' after the children's game.

Have Your Say

People in Manchester seem to love it or hate it. Some say B of the Bang is ugly and should be scrapped. Others say it's an iconic piece of art and worth preserving. What do you think?

last updated: 11/02/2009 at 08:33
created: 25/10/2007

Have Your Say

B of the Bang: scrap it or save it?

The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

Keep it. It's one of very few things outside of the city centre that breaks up the drab dreary landscape of Manchester.

Save may have had its problems and is undoubtedly controversial, but controversy goes hand in hand with art. love it or hate it, it's a striking piece of sculpture and a fitting tribute to the efforts of all Mancunians who hosted the greatest Commonwealth Games in history. To scrap it now makes a mockery of all the money spent on it so far.

Al Benton Jr., Las Vegas, USA
I like it. It looks like a giant version of Kerplunk. I'm actually considering buying it and shipping it over to be part of my World of Over-sized Games attraction.

Save it, its a great symbol for East Manchester when coming in on the train into Piccadilly.

scrap it, looks horrible and is unsafe. replace it with something nicer and safer or just take down n leave open space

Brian John Nicholson
It must have some scrap value.A terrific name, but it should be used for something better.

Bunch of philistines! It's an amazing sculpture and we're lucky to have it. What would you rather have, a burger van?

Go anywhere else in Europe and they treasure great pieces of civic art. Here we generally rubbish it. I think B of the bang is a bit obvious, but I praise the vision of the people who put it where it is. Don't listen to the Philestines. Keep it at all costs!

Chris Manchester
Get rid its an eye sore!! Money could have been well spent on other needy services

Roger and John
It's so good to see Manchester with some decent public art for a change. It's something we should be proud of and preserve to inspire future generations. We agree with Mr Gormley that Manchester City Council should hold its nerve and ensure that the teething problems are overcome. This fabulous sculpture needs to be made MORE visible, by being better lit, by the way.

Anthony, Manchester
I love it and so does everyone I speak to. I don't know who these haters are? Please repair it. It's awe inspiring.

keep it as a mancunian i am happy to see it stay I see it every day from my office in the city centre and i pass it when I go shopping its great

We should definitely keep it, it is an incredible design as well as being quite a talking point!

Rob Kehoe
Keep it! It looks great, especially when lit up. Spend money on making it save if necessary but please do not scrap it.

Keep it- I love watching the spikes moving in the wind everytime I drive past it! Wouldn't like to walk too close too it though...

geoff walsh
The B of the bang should not be scrapped I love it I feel it represents some of the history of the area eg metal works geoff ( blacksmith)

This is what happens when artist (or designers) design and build structures. They Don’t Work.Architects and Structural Engineers go to University and study the mechanics of structures, artists… well.. they don’t.I would not normally have a problem with this but as it’s at the tax payer’s expense I feel the proper research has not been put in to the project.On a personal note. I love the structure and wish it was not flawed

Save it please! I pass it everyday and rain or shine its wonderful..One of the best things thats happened to Manchester, Im a Manc and Im proud of it!!

Stu, Manchester
Save it, I have never been a fan of art but this sculpture should be saved as it is just amazing!

Eric Miller
it is unsightly,dangerous,and is an `object.` as far from art as one can get. scrap it!!

Barry Clarke
If the engineering problems can be solved, and it was painted as first intended rather than looking like a rusting hulk, (the lights don't do it any favours), then maybe it could be saved, also bearing in mind that it is built on the epicenter of the earthquake swarm, (has that been taken into account), is it safe and will it ever be, however as it is now it is just an eyesore and probably only fit for the bin.

Julie S
Save It! I think it is an incredible piece of design, not withstanding the engineering failures

Jason, Droylsden, Manchester
I really hope the sculpture stays! It truly is a diamond in the rough; a magnificent beacon of Manchester's technological cutting edge and cultural expression. Shame about the structural problems, but I think its worth fixing to maintain the striking design, bursting through a typical dull Manchester sky.

Elaine Wilson
love this spectacular sculpture, it should stay

Lily London UK
I think Manchester should be EXTREMELY proud of it.I am sure that many people coulldn't design something as simple but with so much character as that. Even if they tried!!!!

I love the B of the Bang!!I think that it is an amazing way to keep Manchester up on its feet. I hope it stays

scrap it,waste of money

Scrap it, and put up a statue to Mercer & Allison with the melted down spikes

Tony Browne
Unique; see comment from Mary 'a huge asset for Manchester' ... a tourist. Only folk from other provincial cities would want it torn down; be careful Council Leaders who you listen to! Manchester needs MORE tourist attractions NOT LESS!

Cath Smith
Keep it, it looks fab, especially at night when it's lit up.

Jacky evans
Save it

Sharon Davies
I think it's a great piece of Artwork. It's awsome to see it when you drive ou Alan Turing Way and suddenly it's there, brilliant

Jessica Chambers
The B of the Bang is an impressive sculpture that should not just be scrapped overnight. It is an amazing feat of aerodynamic engineering and should be restored and kept for generations to enjoy!

John of London
Scrap it. It was an ill-conceived mistake not a sculpture. What a waste of public money!

scrap it because it is dangerouss

THIS IS NOT ART!!! This was a horrible idea from the start and a awful waste of taxpayers money. SCRAP IT!!!

Robert Ellis
Keep it, much more fun than watching Man City play, and can be preserved at a fraction of the cost.

As art goes I can see why it won the competition for design. It is quite a stunning peice of art. In reality though I think it is about time we cut our loses as it is going to turn in to a money pit. I would much rather the council spend money on other improvements than waste it trying to save a jinxed scuplture. The architect's original promise was that the structure would be maintenance free which as we all know is far from reality with it needing constant monitoring. Maybe a scaled down version could be made to go indoors as a compromise and replace the current one with something different making sure it is a bit more stable

I love the idea. Certainly makes waiting for a bus more interesting. Will I get speared? Won't I? Like a real life but dangerous version of Gladiators. There's not nearly enough of this thing nowadays.

Eve - Droylsden
From the offset I was very dubious about the design, and this was reinforced after seeing how much the spikes shake in the wind! I agree that Manchester needs public art, but the money spent on this eyesore could have been better used elsewhere... for example investing in public transport so we don't get slapped with the C-charge!!! I'd recommend recycling the metal from the structure and investing the money in something more worthwhile!

Yes, it is an iconic piece of art and should be preserved.It is fair that part of the £1.7m be spent on its restoration, i.e. at no cost to the Council!

Reading some of these comments it's no wonder Manchester has a reputation of being a miserable place. Why are you ashamed of this? This is an incredible structure and the city people should grow the soul to appreciate it. What would you replace it with which could have anywhere near the same impact? Whatever - The deed is done. The truth is that this structure is world-renowned now, and if the residents achieve its removal, Manchester will go down in history as a city without soul.

Sally, High Wycombe
Keep it of course. Great art is always controversial and this is ground breaking as well as amazing and exciting. If every art work that someone somewhere had disliked were to be destroyed, we would have no sculptures of any kind in the landscape and the poorer for it. There were huge protests about the angel of the north when it was first constructed - now it is one of the most famous and recognisable works of public modern art.

Andy Heath, London
This case demonstrates that you need more than just a great idea to make a great piece of art. I love the specific concept of B of the Bang and the general idea of public art. However, in the race to emulate the success of the Angel of the North, there has clearly been a false start. Tedious though the process may be, anything which is intended to stand up to the elements indefinitely needs to undergo extensive feasibility testing. Artists must work with engineers in the same way architects do, and not jump the gun.

Tia Kirkland
To be honest it looks unsafe and every time I go past it on the bus im hoping it doesnt fall down while im sitting at the lights right next to it. Its unattravtive and rusty, take it down and stop wasting money we need at the moment.

christian mallalieu
of course the b of the bang is worth saving as money has been spent to put it there and if the council started to think wot they could do to make it safer then why not try to save

Mary, London
We visited Manchester last week especially to see the B of the Bang. It is stunning and your city should be very proud of it. If it is possible to solve the engineering problems and to open it up to the public, then I am sure it will become just as popular as the Angel of the North and pull in the tourists and art lovers. A huge asset for Manchester.

Mary, London
We visited Manchester last week especially to see the B of the Bang. It is stunning and your city should be very proud of it. If it is possible to solve the engineering problems and to open it up to the public, then I am sure it will become just as popular as the Angel of the North and pull in the tourists and art lovers. A huge asset for Manchester.

Fantastic. Keep it. We need more pieces of public art like this in Manchester. We should be proud of it

I would ceep it because it is part of the manchester city stadum and it looks like a big firework and I have been to manchester city stadum.

Maggie Turner
I've just come home after living in London for a few years where the B of the Bloo*y Bang wouldnt get a look in. The B is an eyesore, spoiling the line of the stadium against the sky - a graceful structure - and taking up space where a great work of art could be - like those in London. I am Mancunian born and bred and have worked for the City and am proud of what iyt has acheived but it does keep on amkiing the same mistakes, shoddy non-art like the shoddy non-architecture of the Hukme Crsecents. Look at our fantastic heritage and stunning new city centre tall buildings. Put the B near the Beetham? I don't think so. Put it where the poor people live, you can shove them around as you like eh Manchester City Council? Why change the habit of a lifetime?

Joe - Oldham
I was fortunate enough to watch the B of the Bang grow from concept to reality; I photographed it all and was inspired to write a little ditty about it. I presentd it to Thomas & Liford on the night of the opening.I remain proud of the sculpture and believe it represents a story about people with ambition, passion, skill and dedication and reflects all that is GREAT about Britain.B of the Bang!Light (and life) in an instant at time zero plus…Illuminated by sparks of geniusNeedled sculpture cushioned in concreteForged in steel, rustingOrange hews glisten as dark prongs towerRadially spaced in a super nova flashDeranged or focused in an athletic starburst?Controversial, colourful contrasting corrosionsHeightened metal, muscular form, accentuated byRadiated light (day and night)In your face Manchester!Spiked, footing sure and steelyThorns thrusting menacingly over ordinary mortalsInspiration makes for a winnerExotic engineering in silent static explosive motion.01/01/05

M James
This thing is a joke, I live close to the monstrosity and think that something else should have been chosen in the first place. I can't help thinking that the money could have created something more appropriate, as it stands (or not) now, the thing is constantly having spkies removed, it has been fenced off since it was errected, it isn't even lighted properly at night (the sign next to it shows what it probably should have looked like which further makes a mockery of it).As someone else commented, it IS dangerous, if you stand watching it in strong winds the movement and wobbling really doesn't fill you with confidence.I can only imagine the outrage that would be shown if a spike actually did fall off into (what is an extremely busy) the road/through a car or bus/ someone waiting at the bus stop directly under it.

steven - manchester
wow why have we not scrapped this lump rust yet !! i live near it and trust me its rubbish and people with no brains haveput it up. it make me sick to think my tax money is spent on stuff like this.. why not spend it on our troops that risk death every day for our bent goverment. its all about back handers of companys to get work..... well thats all i think ... scrap it ..

Tony Carr
Don't waste any more money on this nonsese! scrap it!

Andrew - Rochdale
ART ART ART, SCRAP SCRAP SCRAP, what a mess! I can't believe that people think this actually looks good, or are those people the ones that come of the City drunk or something? I say get rid it looks a mess and surely someone could have come up with a better idea than that.

This sculpture is an eyesore and is a complete waste of money, it does nothing for the area and is unsafe. I do hope that the money being spent on this rusty mess is not taken for the tax payers. It only appeals to arty people who thing it looks good. It looks a mess and needs to go. Its only a matter of time before high winds rip one of those spikes and send one through the roof of a passing car.

John Baldacchino
The Bang should absolutely be saved. This is public art at its best and most creative and could become as representative of Manchester as the angel of the North is to Newcastle.

Keep it. Can you imagine any other city removing such an iconic piece of art? Scrap the health & safety inspectors' roles and use the money saved to repair it!AGREED!

Alan Wood
This brilliant art work should checked & made safe. It is unique & a landmark for the whole of M/cr. Great cities are recognised for their statues & public art - M/cr needs more!

This is one of the few pieces of art that I always like to look at. It looks stunning, rusty or not. It would be a real loss to Manchester to see it leave.

Julie, Manchester
Definately scrap it, it's been nothing but a disgusting waste of taxpayer's money.

Simon Abell
Every time I pass Manchester on the train is the sculpture, it grabs my attention more than the stadium during the day. KEEP IT but keep it fenced off, I think with the spikes falling off it shows that manchester is a place where a few small things can go wrong but in a whole everything still works!

Lee Hanby
Its a beautiful piece of art and should be restored for future generations to enjoy.

kathryn whelan
another waste of money scrap it and use the money you get from the scrap to do something useful.

D Johnson
Scrap - money needed to save should instead be put to real use

Keep it. Can you imagine any other city removing such an iconic piece of art? Scrap the health & safety inspectors' roles and use the money saved to repair it!

They could of made it a different colour besides that rusty colour!

david balderstone
scrap the thing, it is a waste of money. plus it looks rusty.

Ian T
Leave it alone. It gives me and my mate a good laugh every time we pass it.

Tony Sloan
This is a shocking waste of money and an insult to the local people in a sadly deprived area of Manchester. Scrap it and move on...

Sharon Davies
I love it, it's great when you drive up Alan Touring Way and POW!!! it's just there. Please don't get rid of it.

u aint seen me right
At first glance it is very eye catching but on close inspection it looks half finished. I say keep it but give it a major facelift....

i think its a beautiful piece of art,and the person who created it should be credited for his/her work.its a focal point of Manchester and a great show off piece of work to visitors.Keep the b of the bang and keep Manchester on the map.Its beautiful.

Anita, Manchester
I love it - keep it but change the colour - it looks rusty!

Carol Morton
The 'B' of the Bang is fantastic - get it fixed and show it to its best advantage

john martin
a striking landmark, finish it. Lets have something unique for a change.

i think that they should keep tne b of the bang it look's great when it's lite up an night great peice of art


Go anywhere else in Europe and they value civic sculpture. We're just a nation of phylistines. Knock it down and revel in another pile of rubbish.

Conor Knowles
R of the Rust should not be took down even though it does not look nice in the day it looks nice at night

please don't scrap b of the bang it reminds me of a head with a load of javlins stuck in it

It's great !A modern and powerful work of art. KEEP IT !!!

Gary, Manchester
Given the outrageous amount of money it cost in the first place, get it repaired, make sure the job is done right so it lasts, and lets move on...

it's a ridiculous waste of money and should never have been built. It's a liability and accident waiting to happen !

Chris P
B of the Bang rocks. It's Beetham Tower we should be knocking down.

Maxi Fergie
Yes, keep it.It is an art piece which needs no explanation unlike other so called "works of art".I could arrange to have the fabrication made completely safe for a fraction of the stupidly quoted figures being bandied around.

Jan, Manchester
The B of the Bang is an eyesore SCRAP IT!!!!!

if gauranteed it will be safe then restore as manchester needs art like this

Gareth Jones, Sportcity
It isn't actually rust Wes, it was designed like that. For once in your lives try and appreciate a bit of art instead of knocking it, try not to believe everything you read in tabloid newspapers.

This design is cutting edge technology. Any new design such as this will have teething problems. What is important is that it gets sorted out quickly, so that Manchester will boast about this Iconic structure for years to come.

john mann
its an embarressment scrap it just write it off

Barbara Brayshay
B of the bang is inspirational - symbolic of momentum, energy and expansion. Manchester needs this more than a super casino!

Tony P
A waste of money,not aesthetically pleasing.

George in Hale Barns
Repair it and keep it on the present site.

Simon, Manchester
I think it looks horrible. Get rid, and build something attractive

Wes Brown
It's nothing but a pile of rust. Most of the photos you see of it is before the rust ever started, or lights making it look better that utter waste of public money that it is! The pavement near it has been fenced off for ages and the near by road.It's about time people were shown photos of what it looks like during the day - and close up so you can see what a total pile of rust it is.

should try to look for ways of improving it or maybe build something better than this..but its was a good try

Neil Manchester
Any piece of art that provokes so much debate is worth keeping.

Can never get enough art in a City such as Manchester. Let's find a way to make it safe.

Get it fixed! A brilliant piece of public art....appreciate!

m of mcr
It's an atrocious waste of money; I'm sick of modern designers making naff statues and the like. Get rid of it, and spend the money on making that part of manchester better.

keep it and fix it
son at uni and when we spotted it loved it.

This work of art is simply mind blowing the first time you see it and looks stunning in its location next to the city stadium. The tradgedy is the legal wrangle it has become the vistim of and the all too obvious public debate that is now in full swing, yes money is needed for aid in africa and yes money is needed to help make the lives of our own impoverished children better, but the argument that public art should pay that price is ludicrous- what a boring manchester we would have all be it with smooth road surfaces and a great philanthropy record if we took away its culture and heart.

Peter Wills
Keep it definitely. It's a stunning piece of work, much better to be there than just on photographs.

david wright
definitely worth fighting for.

mark sullivan
The council should hang it's head in shame over the handling of this but it should stay as it brings a lot of class to the area.

Lynne Manchester
It looks like a pile of old rust! Get rid!

Fix it and keep it.

Malcolm. Ancoats
Its a disgraceful waste of money and it looks nowt like it was supposed to do - just look at the sign by the side of it.The spikes are white not rusty.Bigger than the Angel Of The North thats a joke. If anymore spikes fall off and hit someone then Manchester City Council could be dealing with a claim for compensation.The money could have been spent on something better and the land used for something that benefits the local community..Scap the damn thing.

It is absurd that so much money has been wasted on this thing - in an area of Manchester where the money could be better spent and make more of a difference to people's lives.

Russell, Leamington
It's a fantastic piece of artwork and despite its setbacks a feat of British engineering to be proud of. Like it or loath it, it provokes a reaction, which is its success.

Lil Myke
What does B of the Bang even mean? Manchester is too good for this peice of rust!!!

Glenn in Manchester
Another waste of money, could be another disaster like the Dome in London.. Use money to better causes, eg resurface roads

steve in droylsden
get money for scrap b of the bang and give it to the n of the nspcc

Jim, Droylsden
It needs fixing. It still looks impressive and it should be opened.

A truly fantastic piece of public art. Manchester is sadly lacking in art compared to other major citys. I love it and think that we should keep it if it can be made safe.

Ace Riley
I was interviewed by the BBC before the bang was installed and i told the Council that this would happen ,harmonics would shake it to bits.But nobody listened ,their answer was .it was tested in a wind tunnel at 150mph?Well it didnt work,Its time for people to resign their jobs .The residents of manchester was told it would not cost them a penny.But after a few months the residents was told that the cost didnt include the installation cost.MCC should have sorted this out before they commisioned the sculpture .bad management by the head of the council.


Mike Vose in Ashton-u-Lyne
J of the Junk would be more appropriate!

Andy in Salford
I think the B of the Bang is possibly the most stunning piece of modern architecture anywhere in the country today - it's amazing. However, I do agree with the council's decision to take Thomas Heatherwick Associates to court over the sculpture. Issues with the design should have been sorted out long before now. Thank you for highlighting in such a balanced manner the plight of this work of art.

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