WORK is set to begin on a £45,000 piece of public art recognising the industrial heritage of a former steel town.

The giant sculpture, reflecting the image of a blast furnace and lit-up to replicate the glow of the smelting process, will be the focal point of the Puddlers Corner roundabout on the A692 at Front Street and Genesis Way, in Consett.

Artist Colin Rose has been commissioned to carry out the work following months of consultation.

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This included forums for young people, public exhibitions and talks with interested groups such as the Consett and District Heritage Initiative.

Planning permission for the 10m tall structure was granted this week and work is expected to start on site next month and be completed by the end of March.

Mr Rose said: “It is an exciting project and the brief was to acknowledge the past as well as looking to the future.

“When the steelworks were in full flow I am told there was a constant glow across the town.

“The sculpture reflects both the smelting process and the glow and the light is also recognition of Consett as a modern, clean town. It is a reference to the past and the future.”

The close proximity of coking coal, black band iron ore and limestone, the three ingredients needed for blast furnaces to produce iron and steel, saw Consett transformed in the 1840’s from a small village community to a boom town.

At its peak in the 1960’s Consett steel works employed 6,000 workers.

In 1980, the steelworks closed with the loss of 3,700 jobs.

The sculpture, made of stainless steel, will be cone shaped with supporting steel cables.

Councillor Neil Foster, cabinet member for economic regeneration at Durham County Council, said: “The design of the scheme has emerged from local consultation and I therefore hope the people of Consett see the artwork as a landmark they can be proud of.”

The £45,000 artwork has been made possible by funding from Aviva, who are investing in Hermiston Retail Park, local county councillors and Durham County Council.