In Nelson, Lancashire stands a 39-foot tall statue that resembles a piece of industrial machinery that’s normally under a foot long.
In traditional weaving, the shuttle pulls weft fibers between warp fibers to form a woven textile. In handloom weaving, it was thrown or pushed by hand. By the mid-18th century, the mechanically propelled flying shuttle allowed for the development of industrial weaving machines. This, in turn, helped manufacture much wider textiles. The sculpture represents a shuttle that would have been key to creating textiles that were an important industry in Lancashire.
The metal sculpture was designed by artist Dave Palmer and installed in 2011. The majority of the sculpture is composed of weathered steel which results in a brown coloration. It represents the rich brown color developed in wooden shuttles after many years of use.
Locally, the sculpture is known as Nelson’s Column and took nearly 100 days of wielding and welding to complete. The sculpture didn’t come without its share of controversy. Many throughout the community felt that while this sculpture celebrated Lancashire’s textile history, many of the historic cotton mills in the area were being demolished.