Graffiti-hit and peeling horse sculptures on train route look like 'scabby osses'

The once-majestic life-size black iron horses between Wolverhampton and Birmingham railway stations are fast becoming "scabby osses" due to a lack of love.

An anaemic looking Iron Horse in Tipton in 2013
An anaemic looking Iron Horse in Tipton in 2013

As visitors from across the world descend on the West Midlands for the Commonwealth Games, a Black Country champion is demanding the 12 horses are returned to their former glory.

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

Former Cradley Heath and Old Hill Councillor John Tipper is sad to see the state of some of the horses.

He told the Express & Star: "The horses on the platforms of Wolverhampton Railway Station and Birmingham New Street look OK.

"However, some of the horses look like they have seen better days. My local horse is by Smethwick Rolfe Street and it has been daubed in graffiti and its paint is sadly peeling.

The iron horse at Wolverhampton Railway Station

"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."

The Smethwick iron horse

He added: "Just like we should be proud of our industrial heritage which the Iron Horses celebrate we should be proud of the sculptures themselves and they should be ready to welcome the world during the Commonwealth Games."

Rail user Alex was less optimistic about the future of the iron horses.

He said: "Last time I bothered looking several of them were disappearing into the undergrowth, so wouldn't be surprised to find they've been nicked and weighed in."

One of the horses at Dudley Port, pictured in 1987

In 2009 the iron horse in Tipton was vandalised when an England flag was sprayed on the metal with the initials of the British National Party

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 and is made from half-inch steel plate. They were forged at Corley Welding, Digbeth, under the direction of artist Kevin Atherton.

The horses were designed to be viewed from a moving train as silhouettes, with six facing towards Wolverhampton and six heading towards Birmingham.

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