Friday Photo by Karen Strunks

Boulton, Watt and Murdock, Broad Street by Karen Strunks

Boulton, Watt and Murdock, Broad Street by Karen Strunks

A little peice of Birmingham history for you today!

I’ve passed these statues countless times over the years and had never given much thought to them. To be honest, I don’t often look over to that side of the street very much, the buildings behind the statue aren’t very attractive and theĀ open space outside the Rep theatre always manages to turn my head. However, it was only when I had my camera in hand and ‘seeing’ more than I normally would that the statues finally got my attention. It helped that it was a bright day and the gold was glinting in the sun.

Taken from Birmingham City Council’s website:

“Outside the House of Sport (formerly the Register Office) on Broad Street stands the statue of Boulton, Watt and Murdoch, nicknamed ‘The Golden Boys’ or ‘The Carpet Salesmen’. It is the work of William Bloye, formerly head of sculpture at Birmingham School of Art and was unveiled in 1956, although preliminary designs were drawn up in 1938.
The larger than life size figures are in bronze, with a gold finish, on a pedestal of Portland stone and are depicted discussing engine plans. The piece is in a “temporary” position and was originally intended to stand outside a Planetarium, which was never built, but which would have stood outside what is now the Repertory Theatre.

The three men pioneered the industrial revolution in late 18th century England. James Watt’s improvements to the steam engine and William Murdoch’s invention of gas lighting have made them famous throughout the world. Matthew Boulton, entrepreneur and industrialist, harnessed their talents in a company that made everything from tableware and copper coinage to steam engines. His home, Soho House, is now a museum. All three men are buried in St Mary’s Church Handsworth, known as ‘the Westminster Abbey of the Industrial Revolution’.”

So now you know! See you next Friday :)

19 comments for “Friday Photo by Karen Strunks

  1. Statue Sniffer
    20 March 2009 at 9:10 pm

    I seem to remember that the statues were not gold in the early 1980s, but a dull bronze. Trust the Council to tat them up with naff gold paint.

  2. 20 March 2009 at 10:01 pm

    I think you are right. When I was doing my in depth research I’m sure I saw some photos where the statues were looking a rather non shiney brown. I dunno, I quite like the bling look ;)

  3. 20 March 2009 at 11:13 pm

    It might be naff, but it’s not cheap paint – it’s gold leaf if I remember rightly. I think that it was originally gold, it wore off and then it’s been restoredā€¦

  4. 31 January 2010 at 1:44 pm

    There’s always several approaches to statues, there’s the purely cosmetic that superficially titivates the senses giving the spectator a visual feast, immediate and visceral and there’s the symbolic, the association of ideas and meanings with its form, style and content that convey something deeper to those who are conscious of their identification with such things. nEssentially it is another small part of the grammar of articulating national identity, thus perhaps imparting to some a sense of local pride and dignity in being part of a culture that has produced a historical narrative entirely engrossed in the activity of empire building.nIt represents in my view the excesses and overkill of industrialisation, the gold motif resonating associations and direct links with the ancient craft of making shiny idols for people to worship themselves in.

  5. 31 January 2010 at 1:44 pm

    There’s always several approaches to statues, there’s the purely cosmetic that superficially titivates the senses giving the spectator a visual feast, immediate and visceral and there’s the symbolic, the association of ideas and meanings with its form, style and content that convey something deeper to those who are conscious of their identification with such things. nEssentially it is another small part of the grammar of articulating national identity, thus perhaps imparting to some a sense of local pride and dignity in being part of a culture that has produced a historical narrative entirely engrossed in the activity of empire building.nIt represents in my view the excesses and overkill of industrialisation, the gold motif resonating associations and direct links with the ancient craft of making shiny idols for people to worship themselves in.

  6. 31 January 2010 at 1:44 pm

    There’s always several approaches to statues, there’s the purely cosmetic that superficially titivates the senses giving the spectator a visual feast, immediate and visceral and there’s the symbolic, the association of ideas and meanings with its form, style and content that convey something deeper to those who are conscious of their identification with such things. nEssentially it is another small part of the grammar of articulating national identity, thus perhaps imparting to some a sense of local pride and dignity in being part of a culture that has produced a historical narrative entirely engrossed in the activity of empire building.nIt represents in my view the excesses and overkill of industrialisation, the gold motif resonating associations and direct links with the ancient craft of making shiny idols for people to worship themselves in.

  7. 31 January 2010 at 1:44 pm

    There’s always several approaches to statues, there’s the purely cosmetic that superficially titivates the senses giving the spectator a visual feast, immediate and visceral and there’s the symbolic, the association of ideas and meanings with its form, style and content that convey something deeper to those who are conscious of their identification with such things. nEssentially it is another small part of the grammar of articulating national identity, thus perhaps imparting to some a sense of local pride and dignity in being part of a culture that has produced a historical narrative entirely engrossed in the activity of empire building.nIt represents in my view the excesses and overkill of industrialisation, the gold motif resonating associations and direct links with the ancient craft of making shiny idols for people to worship themselves in.

  8. 31 January 2010 at 1:44 pm

    There’s always several approaches to statues, there’s the purely cosmetic that superficially titivates the senses giving the spectator a visual feast, immediate and visceral and there’s the symbolic, the association of ideas and meanings with its form, style and content that convey something deeper to those who are conscious of their identification with such things. nEssentially it is another small part of the grammar of articulating national identity, thus perhaps imparting to some a sense of local pride and dignity in being part of a culture that has produced a historical narrative entirely engrossed in the activity of empire building.nIt represents in my view the excesses and overkill of industrialisation, the gold motif resonating associations and direct links with the ancient craft of making shiny idols for people to worship themselves in.

  9. 31 January 2010 at 1:44 pm

    There’s always several approaches to statues, there’s the purely cosmetic that superficially titivates the senses giving the spectator a visual feast, immediate and visceral and there’s the symbolic, the association of ideas and meanings with its form, style and content that convey something deeper to those who are conscious of their identification with such things. nEssentially it is another small part of the grammar of articulating national identity, thus perhaps imparting to some a sense of local pride and dignity in being part of a culture that has produced a historical narrative entirely engrossed in the activity of empire building.nIt represents in my view the excesses and overkill of industrialisation, the gold motif resonating associations and direct links with the ancient craft of making shiny idols for people to worship themselves in.

  10. 31 January 2010 at 1:44 pm

    There’s always several approaches to statues, there’s the purely cosmetic that superficially titivates the senses giving the spectator a visual feast, immediate and visceral and there’s the symbolic, the association of ideas and meanings with its form, style and content that convey something deeper to those who are conscious of their identification with such things. nEssentially it is another small part of the grammar of articulating national identity, thus perhaps imparting to some a sense of local pride and dignity in being part of a culture that has produced a historical narrative entirely engrossed in the activity of empire building.nIt represents in my view the excesses and overkill of industrialisation, the gold motif resonating associations and direct links with the ancient craft of making shiny idols for people to worship themselves in.

  11. 31 January 2010 at 1:44 pm

    There’s always several approaches to statues, there’s the purely cosmetic that superficially titivates the senses giving the spectator a visual feast, immediate and visceral and there’s the symbolic, the association of ideas and meanings with its form, style and content that convey something deeper to those who are conscious of their identification with such things. nEssentially it is another small part of the grammar of articulating national identity, thus perhaps imparting to some a sense of local pride and dignity in being part of a culture that has produced a historical narrative entirely engrossed in the activity of empire building.nIt represents in my view the excesses and overkill of industrialisation, the gold motif resonating associations and direct links with the ancient craft of making shiny idols for people to worship themselves in.

  12. 31 January 2010 at 1:44 pm

    There’s always several approaches to statues, there’s the purely cosmetic that superficially titivates the senses giving the spectator a visual feast, immediate and visceral and there’s the symbolic, the association of ideas and meanings with its form, style and content that convey something deeper to those who are conscious of their identification with such things. nEssentially it is another small part of the grammar of articulating national identity, thus perhaps imparting to some a sense of local pride and dignity in being part of a culture that has produced a historical narrative entirely engrossed in the activity of empire building.nIt represents in my view the excesses and overkill of industrialisation, the gold motif resonating associations and direct links with the ancient craft of making shiny idols for people to worship themselves in.

  13. 31 January 2010 at 1:44 pm

    There’s always several approaches to statues, there’s the purely cosmetic that superficially titivates the senses giving the spectator a visual feast, immediate and visceral and there’s the symbolic, the association of ideas and meanings with its form, style and content that convey something deeper to those who are conscious of their identification with such things. nEssentially it is another small part of the grammar of articulating national identity, thus perhaps imparting to some a sense of local pride and dignity in being part of a culture that has produced a historical narrative entirely engrossed in the activity of empire building.nIt represents in my view the excesses and overkill of industrialisation, the gold motif resonating associations and direct links with the ancient craft of making shiny idols for people to worship themselves in.

  14. 31 January 2010 at 1:44 pm

    There’s always several approaches to statues, there’s the purely cosmetic that superficially titivates the senses giving the spectator a visual feast, immediate and visceral and there’s the symbolic, the association of ideas and meanings with its form, style and content that convey something deeper to those who are conscious of their identification with such things. nEssentially it is another small part of the grammar of articulating national identity, thus perhaps imparting to some a sense of local pride and dignity in being part of a culture that has produced a historical narrative entirely engrossed in the activity of empire building.nIt represents in my view the excesses and overkill of industrialisation, the gold motif resonating associations and direct links with the ancient craft of making shiny idols for people to worship themselves in.

  15. 31 January 2010 at 1:44 pm

    There’s always several approaches to statues, there’s the purely cosmetic that superficially titivates the senses giving the spectator a visual feast, immediate and visceral and there’s the symbolic, the association of ideas and meanings with its form, style and content that convey something deeper to those who are conscious of their identification with such things. nEssentially it is another small part of the grammar of articulating national identity, thus perhaps imparting to some a sense of local pride and dignity in being part of a culture that has produced a historical narrative entirely engrossed in the activity of empire building.nIt represents in my view the excesses and overkill of industrialisation, the gold motif resonating associations and direct links with the ancient craft of making shiny idols for people to worship themselves in.

  16. 31 January 2010 at 1:44 pm

    There’s always several approaches to statues, there’s the purely cosmetic that superficially titivates the senses giving the spectator a visual feast, immediate and visceral and there’s the symbolic, the association of ideas and meanings with its form, style and content that convey something deeper to those who are conscious of their identification with such things. nEssentially it is another small part of the grammar of articulating national identity, thus perhaps imparting to some a sense of local pride and dignity in being part of a culture that has produced a historical narrative entirely engrossed in the activity of empire building.nIt represents in my view the excesses and overkill of industrialisation, the gold motif resonating associations and direct links with the ancient craft of making shiny idols for people to worship themselves in.

  17. 31 January 2010 at 2:44 pm

    There's always several approaches to statues, there's the purely cosmetic that superficially titivates the senses giving the spectator a visual feast, immediate and visceral and there's the symbolic, the association of ideas and meanings with its form, style and content that convey something deeper to those who are conscious of their identification with such things.
    Essentially it is another small part of the grammar of articulating national identity, thus perhaps imparting to some a sense of local pride and dignity in being part of a culture that has produced a historical narrative entirely engrossed in the activity of empire building.
    It represents in my view the excesses and overkill of industrialisation, the gold motif resonating associations and direct links with the ancient craft of making shiny idols for people to worship themselves in.

  18. 17 November 2010 at 7:06 pm

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/sparks68/5180747367/in/birminghamitsnotshit/ shows the same statue in November 2010 after the 3 industrial revolutionaries had obviously enjoyed a good night out on Broad Street
    Made me chuckle when I saw this on my way to work.

  19. Nialldcrowley
    22 December 2010 at 5:49 pm

    I think maybe somebody was overdosing on postmodern verbal diarrhea pills when they wrote that. Or as we say in Birmingham (and most other places), you’re talking s***t.

Comments are closed.