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Northern Quarter Light Tower is re-lit

Sleuth and the Confidential battle that Cityco, Karney and NCP won for us

Published on July 22nd 2010.

Northern Quarter Light Tower is re-lit

Sleuth is a sideways glance at the city every week. We give £25 for every story/rumour and piece of absurdity you find for us to print. We ask for the money back if any legal action follows.

Ah the power of the press thinks Sleuth.

We interviewed Michael Trainor (a man with one of the four best moustaches in Manchester) about the alleged Banksy in the Northern Quarter and he said: “Ironically the ‘Banksy’ patch of spray paint which the Council rushed to preserve, sits at the base of the tower in the multi-storey car park where Peter Freeman’s marvellous neon light tower, remains unlit and unloved.”

“It's fantastic to have the tower illuminated again. It was one of my first big art commissions and it has a great energy and presence”

Confidential agreed and said to all and sundry who would listen: “We must seek illumination forthwith.”

Councillor Pat Karney, local minister for fun and for the city centre, said: “Let there be light.”

And lo! There was light.

Or rather Sleuth hears that Pat and the city centre management company, Cityco, had meetings with agencies and organisations and institutions and companies. Particularly with NCP who own the car park which holds up the Light Tower .

The result is that after five years of darkness Cityco have struck up a deal with NCP to re-energise the landmark through the latter’s electricity supply.

Sleuth recalls that the piece, one of the best public art works in the city – because it’s very big, very public and very colourful - is made of 76 fluorescent multi-coloured lights standing 12 metres high and is positioned on the red tower of the car park. Sleuth remembers this because it’s in the press release from Cityco.

The work was created by top British lighting artist, Peter Freeman, commissioned by The Art Department in the Northern Quarter and funded by the Arts Council at a cost of £35,000. It was first switched on at the Northern Quarter street festival in 1999. Freeman’s a happy chappy now: “It's fantastic to have the tower illuminated again. It was one of my first big art commissions and it has a great energy and presence”

So what was the problem and why did the Light Tower go dark?

Sleuth hears that one of the car park cleaning attendants had a large vacuum cleaner, the plug of which suffered a broken fuse. The cleaner then removed the plug on the Light Tower to fix it. The plug wasn’t then replaced and even the socket and the on/off switch was hidden behind a Skoda Octavia Estate for several years. Sleuth hears this via the voices in his head.

If you want to catch the tower having energy and presence it’s lit from 9pm until 1am daily. Go and have a look.

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13 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousJuly 22nd 2010.

This is typical of so many grant funded things.

They get the money to install - but longer term, the responsibility of maintaining them is rarely vested in anyone.

The good intentions of anything like this only works if there is a plan in place to run and maintain something on an ongoing basis - with the reponsibility clearly defined.

JamesJuly 22nd 2010.

I echo the point made above. Miantenance is so often overlooked in this country. I despair. Also, why does it always take a campaign to get someone at the council to noitce something neeeds doing?

Smyth HarperJuly 22nd 2010.

Well done Mancon - fair play for flagging it up and to Pat, Manc CC and Cityco for sorting it. From memory, this looks great lit up and I think with the other interesting lighting in the Northern Quarter, it'll look even better.

J E SibberingJuly 22nd 2010.


Christopher BryanJuly 22nd 2010.

I didn't even know this existed. I shall look forward to taking a look.

As far as I can tell it seems like this was nothing to do with the Council. They've just used their influence to ask NCP to get it up and running again.

PAT KARNEYJuly 22nd 2010.

Havn't had chance to see it---was there at opening.Just finished reading St Peter Sq papers for tomorrow so fancy a break Will be down there at 9 30 to have a look .I will be the one eating Thorntons Toffee which I bought on way home. If you are around see you there .Alan Partridge

Arran SummerhillJuly 23rd 2010.

And the Dr said....Let there be light.

AnonymousJuly 23rd 2010.

Does it do anything? The one of top of the Hayward Gallery in London which I had a little to do with lasted 40 years was neon It did not flash but glowed and dimmed and changed colour according to wind speed and direction. Maintenance turned out to be minium new neon tubes on contrct, and only 4 four new computer cards in 40 years. I hope Peter Freeman's does as well.

If Manchester wants the London tower as well Mr Freemans it is available from the SBC but now needs £40000 refurbisment.

AnonymousJuly 23rd 2010.

I can actually see it from my flat (im on the 4th floor) and have been wondering what it was as ive only been in Manchester 2 years, thanks for the info!

Northern Quarter GirlJuly 25th 2010.

Actually it's not completely re-lit. There's a single width neon tube right at the top of the tower which used to be lit, but isn't now. There's probably some question there about how many CityCo and NCP staff it takes to change...blah blah. Anyway, great to see it lit again. :-)

AnonymousJuly 25th 2010.

no NQ its a specialist job... they will have to get the neon guy from Oldham Street but getting him up there may be a problem. I assume in real life there is maintenance contract. My experience was you had to let a lot go out before it is economical to repair them. But are they neon? I thought the article said they were florecent

SquirrelitoJuly 27th 2010.

Good to see this back. Hope it stays on. Oh and Pat, if you're on a roll, whats happening with the horn/umbrella thing from near Afflecks and any chance that the "fountain" at the Victoria end of Cathedral Gardens will ever return to being more than some upright wood in a puddle? Been more than while now...

SquirrelitoJuly 27th 2010.

PS: What news on the Exchange Square tree stump?

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