National Recording Project


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

Steel Columns


Type Sculpture

     This piece is formed from 15 carved sweet Chestnut trunks up to 6m high. It depicts characters taken from Victorian photographs of Bilston. The figures stand on piles of coal, set upon columns of chain. The overall look echoes a forest of smoking chimneys.
     There was a limited competition for the commission for this piece. Four artists were shortlisted to produce detailed models and designs, with Robert Koenig's design being successful. All four of the shortlisted designs were exhibited at the Roadworks II exhibition in Bilston in September 1994. 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) The creation of this work involved a programme of community work and development organised through Bilston Museum and Art Gallery.
     The title alludes to the fundamental importance of Bilston's steelworkers in the early development of the area. The sculpture commemorates workers in both the coal and steel industries.


On plaque next to sculpture: STEEL COLUMNS/ Robert Koenig/ 1999/ To the Bilston Steel Industry and it's Workers

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
Koenig, Robert Sculptor

Element details

Part of work Material Dimensions
Front row of columns Sweet Chestnut trunks, painted black, red, and yellow 450cm high x 38cm diameter
Middle row of columns Sweet Chestnut trunks, painted black, red, and yellow 505cm high x 40cm diameter
Back row of columns Sweet Chestnut trunks, painted black, red, and yellow 560cm high x 45cm diameter

PMSA recording information

Reference Region
WMwvBIxx004 BM
General condition Good
Surface condition
  • Abrasions, cracks, splits
  • Biological growth
Structural condition
  • Cracks, splits, breaks, holes
  • Surface damage
Road Oxford Street Roundabout
Precise location next to footpath adjacent to Oxford Street Roundabout at east end of Bilston Centre.
A-Z ref 31 5F
OS ref SO953963
Date of design None
Year of unveiling 1996
Unveiling details 30 May 1996
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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