National Recording Project


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

Tower of Light


Type Sculpture

     This design comprises a tower in the form of an elongated cone set at a slight angle. Stainless steel is interwoven with fibre optic cables that light up at night, with a translucent blue resin casting to form an apex. There is an access door in the base of the tower. The light sculpture is intended to point to a new future in and around the Bilston area.
     There was a limited competition for this commission. The artists' brief suggested that, given the scale of the site and its surroundings, the work should be a minimum of 8 metres high. It also had to have strong local significance: the assessment panel indicated an interest in a design based on the Bilston coat of arms, but this was never intended to be prescriptive. Four artists were shortlisted and invited to submit detailed models and plans of their proposed works in situ. Eilis O'Connell's piece proved the most popular of the four designs submitted when it was exhibited at the Roadworks II exhibition in 1994, and the commissioning of her design was subsequently approved on 17 January 1995. This sculpture is intended to enhance and provide a recognisable marker on The Black Country Route, an urban dual carriageway that was opened in 1995, linking junction 10 of the M6 with the main route between Wolverhampton and Birmingham. Wolverhampton Metropolitan Borough Council, with the work of several artists, a charitable organisation, and some U.K. based manufacturers have provided public art on and around the carriageway. The Internet site 'Public Art on the Black Country Route' documents the whole development. (1) It was the final sculpture on the Black Country Route. The completion of the Route's Public Art Programme was celebrated by a torchlit procession and a switching on ceremony at Bilston Football Club. The sculpture was officially unveiled by Lisa Potts and Councillor Trudy Bowen, chairman of the Council's highways and transportation committee.(2)
     Light is the primary element of this sculpture, and its inspiration comes from the origin of Bilston's name as the place of sun or fire worship as well as the lighted lamp of Faith, the woman on the Bilston coat of arms. Light here is also re-birth, a new beginning for the area, and the technology used to produce it hints at the possibilities for the coming century.

Related works : All other works on the Black Country Route, including some non-sculptural pieces such as brick patterns, which are not recorded here.

Contributor details

Contributor Role
O'Connell, Eilis Designer
Arup, None Designer
Ingram, LV Metal worker

Element details

Part of work Material Dimensions
Tower Stainless Steel 16.5m high x 2m diameter at base
Lights Fibre Optic Cables None
Apex Translucent Blue Resin None

PMSA recording information

Reference Region
WMwvBIjj035 BM
General condition Good
Surface condition
  • Bird guano
Structural condition
  • None
  • None
Road Vulcan Road Roundabout
Precise location adjacent to Bilston Football Club
A-Z ref 31 G4
OS ref SO956964
Date of design None
Year of unveiling 1998
Unveiling details 16 May 1998
Commissioned by Wolverhampton Metropolitan Borough Council
Duty of care Wolverhampton Metropolitan Borough Council
Listing status Not listed
At risk? No known risk

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