National Recording Project

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Detail from: Memorial to 158 Squadron by Peter W. Naylor, 2009

Railway Tree

Summary

Type Street Furniture , Sculpture

     Seven upright groups of steel girders, fashioned to look like railway tracks, fixed in groups of three to a 'stem' stretching skywards and branching out, overhanging the circular base. The sculpture is set within a circle of coloured, decorative pavement slabs incorporating the points of the compass and circular decorative motifs - a star, umbrellas, birds, leaves, etc. Lights are set in the pavement around it, illuminating it at night.
     Commissioned by Newham as part of the Stratford City Challenge redevelopment programme in 1995, the piece was put in place during June 1996, having been fabricated in Birmingham the same year. Malcolm Robertson's proposal was to use stainless steel 'skeletal forms in a . . . spatial way to create a tree-like structure in an area bereft of natural landscaping'.(1) The construction is of stainless steel box section girders. In the original plan, the tree's branches were to be decorated with suspended steel motifs, symbols and wind chimes, which were to have been designed by members of the local community. Although this part of the project was never implemented, the sculpture itself stands as an effective reminder of the area's strong links with industry and the Victorian railway system, as well as Stratford's current location as a focal point of East London's transport network. The sculptor says 'that it was intended to "act as a gateway to Stratford and to symbolise its former connection with industry and railways in particular"'.(2)
     Marks Stratford's location as a focal point for transport links and its historical connection to industry and railways in particular.

Inscriptions

On brass plaque set into pavement in front of sculpture to NNE, incised lettering : RAILWAY TREE / by / MALCOLM ROBERTSON / 1996 / [Stratford City Challenge logo] / Commissioned by Stratford City Challenge / in consultation with the following community groups: / Sarah Bonnell School, Rokeby School, Carpenters Primary / Carpenters and Docklands Art Classes, Stepping Stones Club, / Upton Centre, Hibiscus Centre, Greenhill Centre.

Contributor details

Contributor Role
Robertson, Malcolm Artist

Element details

Part of work Material Dimensions
Whole work Stainless steel 900cm high approx x 400cm diameter at base

PMSA recording information

Reference Region
NE030 UEL
General condition Good
Surface condition
Structural condition
Vandalism
Road Broadway
Precise location Pedestrian walkway at junction of Broadway and Great Eastern Road
A-Z ref 65 Fc 38
OS ref TQ387841
Date of design 1995-96
Year of unveiling 1996
Unveiling details None
Commissioned by Stratford City Challenge
Duty of care London Borough of Newham
Listing status Not listed
At risk? No known risk

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