Page last updated at 16:38 GMT, Tuesday, 31 October 2006

'Unique' towers facing demolition

Cooling towers
The sculptor says they could become a concert hall

A world-famous sculptor has stepped into the controversy over the future of Sheffield's iconic cooling towers - but he may be too late to save them.

Their owners said they must be demolished before the end of the year as they are close to the M1 and unsafe.

Antony Gormley, creator of the Angel of the North, said it would be an act of cultural vandalism to knock them down.

He said the towers were "intrinsically beautiful" and offered a very exciting vista from the motorway.

"They are to the industrial revolution what cathedrals were to the medieval world," he told the BBC.

To destroy something of this beauty is an act of vandalism
Antony Gormley
He said the towers were "absolutely unique" in their shape and acoustic capabilities.

He thought they could be used as a concert hall or recording studio, to take full advantage of the acoustics afforded by the structures.

"I could see a choir singing specially-composed music in the centre, with the audience sitting in a circle round them," he said.

"To destroy something of this beauty is an act of vandalism."

The Tinsley cooling towers were originally part of Blackburn Meadows Power Station which closed down in the 1970s.

They can be seen for miles by the many thousands of motorists who use the M1 motorway daily.

The site was one of six in the UK selected earlier this year to be part of a 2m national art programme for Channel 4.

But owner Eon, the company which runs Powergen, says it plans to knock the towers down and redevelop the site..

Spokeswoman Rebecca Middleton said detailed structural survey work in the summer confirmed the towers were deteriorating.

"We have determined that now is the time to bring them down in a safe and controlled way," she said.

video and audio news
See the towers while you can

UK's unsung landmarks: The vote
15 Aug 06 |  Magazine
Turning towers into art
08 Jul 06 |  UK
Setback for ambitious art project
10 Apr 06 |  South Yorkshire


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific