Iconic Black Country horse sculpture restored after being hacked apart by metal thieves

One of the iconic black iron horses that line the Wolverhampton to Birmingham railway has been restored to its former glory after being hacked to pieces by thieves trying to sell its legs for scrap.

David Williams, Nat Partridge, Maria Wedgbury and Ron Wedgbury, with Rosie.
David Williams, Nat Partridge, Maria Wedgbury and Ron Wedgbury, with Rosie.

After disappearing from public view underneath bushes, the horse, erected in 1987 near Coseley Railway Station, was flattened, hacked apart and buried under soil when a group of residents decided to revive her in 2018.

The black horse in Tipton has seen better days

The group of volunteers from Bayer Street Allotments have spent three years lovingly restoring their beloved horse, which they christened "Rosie".

They now hoping to find a permanent home near the railway in Coseley so passengers can see her majesty and beauty as they travel through the Black Country.

The moment Rosie was rescued in 2018

Nat Partridge said: "She was in a really sorry state when we saved her from the scrapyard three years ago.

"We have all worked so hard bringing Rosie back to her former glory, with some members of the group investing their own money to ensure the right materials were used. The East Coseley Big Local also had our backs with Rosie's restoration and helped financially.

"Thankfully, Ron Wedgbury has a friend in the metal business and they got Rosie looking so wonderful."

She added: "As it is the Queen's Jubilee year we would love to get Rosie somewhere near Coseley Railway Station so everyone can see her."

In 1987 artist Kevin Atherton installed the 12 iron horses at regular intervals along the railway line creating "the longest sculpture in the world" which lauded the proud industrial past of the region.

The £10,000 sculpture was commissioned by British Rail, the former West Midlands County Council and West Midlands Arts.

Each horse weighs a quarter of a ton were made from half-inch steel plate at Corley Welding, Digbeth, under the direction of the artist.

Designed to be viewed from a moving train as silhouettes, with six facing towards Wolverhampton and six heading towards Birmingham.

Former Cradley Heath and Old Hill Councillor John Tipper complained some of the sculptures looked more like "scabby osses" than Black Beauties.

He said: "They have seen better days. The Smethwick Rolfe Street horse and it has been daubed in graffiti and its paint is sadly peeling.

"And as for the poor nag in the field near Coseley Railway Station it can only be described what is known around here as a 'scabby oss'. The paint isn't just peeling off, it looks like someone has taken a blow torch to the poor thing."

He added: "But what Nat and everyone in Coseley have done with Rosie is really inspiring and restores your faith in human nature knowing that thieves tried to sell her legs for scrap."

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