Sculpture 74 (Middlesbrough, P. Morley, 1974)

Sculpture 74 was installed at the junction of Linthorpe Road and Bolckow Street. Photo from post-1986, as the A66 can be seen in the background. Photo courtesy of Tony Duggan and Simon McKeown, possibly taken by John Buchan

Status: Removed (1990s)

Sculpture 74 was commissioned following an open competition organised by Teesside County Council. A permanent sculpture was sought as part of the scheme to convert a section of Linthorpe Road to pedestrian use only. The competition received 37 submissions – whittled down to 2 choices – which were put to a public postal vote via the Evening Gazette in May 1973. Both designers received £25 for their efforts.

The entrants were asked to submit sketches and a brief description of their design, and were asked to take into account the urban setting and the enclosed nature of the area resulting from the buildings around. Consideration was also asked to be mindful of vandalism and emergency access, but also that the “cost of the work for manufacture, erection and design fees must not top £1,500” (Evening Gazette, 16th May 1974 p. 21). Although Teesside County Council Minutes disclose that £2000 had been allocated to the project (Min. 4487 29th March 1973).

Public Postal Vote to choose between Entry A and Entry B

The full article in the Evening Gazette (May 10, 1973)

P. Morley of Newton Hall (a suburban community in County Durham north of Durham City) designed a 12-foot structure upon an eight-foot high brickwork elevation. The towering structure was designed to avoid the temptation of climbing youngsters, emerging seamlessly from the paving on the ground around it. This strategy was copied nearby (with varying levels of success) in Graham Ibbeson’s Gardener Tending His Flowers and Shopper and Child, as well as Glynn Williams’ Mother With Child / Seated Girl in the 1980s.

The sculpture was installed in 1974, hence its name. Morley said of his design “In using polished stainless steel, I feel it is identified with Teesside, and it links with the making of steel. It is made up of a series of squares related to a central spine, indicating growth.” Tony Noble, then planning officer at the Department of Planning and Development, was a major driving force behind the scheme.

Sculpture 74. Looking southwards down Linthorpe Road with The Shakespeare public house to the left. Photo courtesy of Simon McKeown and Tony Duggan, possibly taken by John Buchan.

Sadly, the sculpture was removed during the redevelopment of this stretch of Linthorpe Road in the 1990s, but look out for upcoming articles on the “Gateway” structure, which replaced Sculpture 74 as a place-marker (and was itself removed in the 21st Century).

Unfortunately, the name of the person who designed Entry B is unknown. Also, nothing further is known about the artist behind the winning design beyond P. Morley of Newton Hall. If you have any further information about the sculpture or its designer, please get in touch.

The sculpture in situ and the shopping area around it in the early 1980s, Middlesbrough Reference Library

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