Plans have been submitted to bring back one of Manchester’s quirkiest landmarks – the Big Horn on Tib Street.
The giant sculpture, which was attached to the remnants of a Victorian hat factory opposite Afflecks Palace, was taken down in 2017 to make way for luxury apartments after almost 20 years in the heart of the Northern Quarter. It has been in storage ever since.
Plans to restore the unusual structure have been submitted by Bruntwood, the developer that has owned Afflecks Palace since 2008. The proposed plans would see the Big Horn attached to the facade of the building in the southwestern corner, overlooking Tib Street at its junction with Short Street – across the road from its original position.
What do the plans say?
The documents submitted in the planning application emphasise the sculpture’s cultural significance, as well as its location within the Smithfield conservation area. The cover letter states that the Big Horn is not designed to be ‘within keeping’ of the surrounding architecture, but “distinctive, thought provoking, unusual, and prominent.”
It reads: “The proposed scheme presents an excellent opportunity both to retain the sculpture close to its originally intended location, and also to further enhance the external appeal of Afflecks, which already benefits from artwork upon its facades.
“In terms of the broader Smithfield Conservation Area, and the Northern Quarter, the relocation of the sculpture to Afflecks assists in the retention and creation of communal value, as well as helping to promote the independent, subculture-orientated nature of the Northern Quarter.”
Public consultation is now open on the proposed plans. Anyone wishing to share their views can do so via the Manchester City Council website. The deadline is October 13.
What is the Tib Street horn?
The Tib Street Big Horn was commissioned in 1996 by the now disbanded Northern Quarter Association, which was set up by a group of local small business owners and creatives three years earlier to help improve and develop the neighbourhood. And it received funded from the Arts Council, the National Lottery and Manchester City Council.
Cornish artist David Kemp was selected for the project, which was completed in 1999. It was part of a wider series of his entitled ‘Unsound Instruments.’
Included in the planning documents is a quote from the artist. When asked the question ‘what is it,’ Kemp responded: “It’s not really a saxophone, nor a dragon, coiled on the gothic stump of a Victorian hat factory. Perhaps it’s a listening device, filtering the left-over sounds from the street corner below, where the past bumps into the future, shooting the lights.”