A FOUR-METRE model of the Man of Steel - the giant sculpture designed to overlook the M1 to the east of Sheffield - is to make its debut next month at the Global Manufacturing Festival.
Delegates will see the prototype before it goes on display at the Magna Science and Adventure Centre and Kelham Island Industrial Museum during the centenary of the invention of stainless steel.
The project aims to reflect the area’s industrial heritage and highlight new materials technologies being developed at places such as the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre where the festival is being held from April 17 to 19.
Sculptor Steve Mehdi has seen his concept progress to a 30cm bronze maquette to the model which features a two metre high seated Man of Steel coated in stainless steel on top of a two metre column of coal.
Eventually it is intended that the 30 metre high final version - one-and-a-half times the height of the Angel of the North - will sit on a hill at Kimberworth, visible from the M1 Tinsley viaduct and Meadowhall. The coal column is designed to accommodate a visitor centre and education facilities.
The appearance at the manufacturing festival will raise the sculpture’s profile and will be a launchpad for a £2.7m fundraising drive targeting businesses and sources such as the Heritage Lottery and possibly Europe.
So far the work has attracted money and expertise from across the region. After the model was machined at Sheffield University’s AMRC at Catcliffe, a ‘stainless’ finish was applied at the Snuff Mill car body shop off Ecclesall Road.
Both Sheffield universities and Sheffield Chamber of Commerce have given their support, and Rotherham Council granted planning permission.
However, the city council has so far declined to be involved on the basis that it is a Rotherham project, said Mr Mehdi, who sees it as a regional attraction.
He hopes to persuade Sheffield to change its mind. In particular, he would like backing to release the £500,000 that power company E.ON earmarked for a replacement for the Tinsley cooling towers, which were demolished in 2008.
Mr Mehdi said: “ It has cost an enormous sum to get the project to this stage and everyone has made substantial contributions with a belief that the project will ultimately benefit the community for many generations. It has personally cost me and my business partner a great deal of our own money, with one aim in mind, that the Sheffield City Region can truly have an identity it can be proud of, having waited so long since the demise of the Tinsley cooling towers.”