Black Sabbath’s “heavy metal bench” is being spruced up ready to greet a new parade of fans for when Birmingham’s Broad Street reopens after lockdown.
Tony Iommi, Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward, who collectively adorn the “heavy metal bench” on Black Sabbath Bridge, are getting a much-needed “touch-up” to keep them looking good. You can check out the video footage here.
The distinctive bench, which sits above the canal off Broad Street, was officially opened by Butler and Iommi in June 2019. It has since attracted thousands of Black Sabbath fans, and media, from all over the world. But the combination of construction work and the legion of fans making a pilgrimage to have their photo taken with their heroes has taken its toll.
The restoration work includes re-painting the distinctive portraits of Geezer Butler, Tony Iommi, Ozzy Osbourne and Bill Ward, and repairing any scratches or chips. The bench will remain in place on the recently re-named bridge during the clean-up, unlike when it was temporarily removed in October 2019 due to the Metro extension.
Stewart Francis, of Etch Components, who was involved in the original work, has now been commissioned to smarten the bench up. He said: “We are re-dressing all the faces because of the building work that’s gone on with the dirt, muck and grease that’s gone onto the bench, and people sitting on it. We are re-cleaning it, re-setting it, ready for when Broad Street re-opens.”
Francis said the bench was bearing the consequence of people sitting on it and leaning against the four band members to have their photo taken. “It’s a victim of its own success,” he said. “You get marks where people have rubbed it, put their arms around it, worn jackets that have got zips and things that have scratched into it. It just makes it look a bit shabby, so we like to keep it dressed and looking smart. When it’s finished it will all look pristine and how it should be.”
Mike Olley, general manager of Westside BID, commissioned the original bench project and wants it to continue to draw tourists to the city. He said: “Black Sabbath are arguably Birmingham’s most famous band, so it’s fitting that they continue to attract fans to the city through this bench. It’s lost a bit of its gloss due to all the building work, and the thousands of fans wanting to sit on it, so we are cleaning it up ready for when we can re-open Broad Street’s bars, clubs and restaurants.”