King Kong statue

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King Kong statue
Nicholas Monro's King Kong statue in original colours - crop.png
The statue, in its original colours, being temporarily exhibited at Gosta Green in Birmingham
Artist Nicholas Monro
Year 1972 (1972)
Type Statue
Material Fibreglass
Subject King Kong
Dimensions 550 cm (220 in)
Weight 890 kg (1,960 lb)
Coordinates 54°39′07″N 2°46′01″W / 54.651820°N 2.766822°W / 54.651820; -2.766822Coordinates: 54°39′07″N 2°46′01″W / 54.651820°N 2.766822°W / 54.651820; -2.766822
Owner Lesley Maby

A statue of King Kong by Nicholas Monro was commissioned in 1972 for display in Manzoni Gardens in The Bull Ring, in the centre of Birmingham, England.[1] It was later displayed elsewhere in Birmingham, then in Edinburgh, and is now in Penrith.

The Arnolfini Gallery in Bristol had a maquette.[1] That is in Wolverhampton Art Gallery as of August 2011.[citation needed]


Modelled on the fictional giant gorilla King Kong, the 550 cm (18 ft)-tall,[1] 890 kg (1,960 lb)[2] fibreglass[1] statue was commissioned[1] for display in Birmingham, by the Peter Stuyvesant Foundation[1] for the Sculpture for Public Places Scheme[3] "City Sculpture",[4] in partnership with the Arts Council of Great Britain.[1]

It was constructed at the artist's studio at Hungerford.[5] Munro's brief was to make something "city orientated" and he chose King Kong because of his association with New York and "for my own petty reasons".[5]

After the statue had been on display in Manzoni Gardens for six months, Birmingham City Council was offered the opportunity to purchase the work,[5] but decided not to retain it,[1] and so later in 1972, it was sold for £2,000[citation needed] to a local used-car dealer,[1] Mike Shanley,[6] who changed the name of his dealership to King Kong Car Co.[7] and displayed the statue at his sales lot[1] on the A34 Stratford Road, next to the former Holy Trinity church in the Camp Hill area of the city.[6] While there, it was dressed up as Father Christmas in season. It is likely that a subsequent owner of the statue and lot was a Mr Racey.[6]

By 1976, the King Kong statue had moved to a new location on Ladypool Road, Sparkbrook, close to the Clifton Road junction. It stood at the rear face of the Clifton public house. It was still being used to advertise a King Kong cars dealership at this location [8]


The statue in Edinburgh in March 2005, painted pink

In 1976, it was sold for £12,700 to Nigel Maby's Scottish company Spook Erection Ltd[9] and displayed at Ingliston Market in Edinburgh.[1] During that period, it was falsely reported destroyed,[1] and repainted several times, including once in tartan,[9] and, in 2001, in shocking pink.[2] Before removal from Edinburgh on the closure of that market in 2005,[10] the statue suffered damage by vandals to its back, and a broken arm, requiring repair.[2]


The repaired and repainted statue, at Penrith, in April 2008
The recumbent statue at Penrith, in August 2011

It was subsequently displayed at Skirsgill Auction Mart, a market site in Penrith,[10] and was still there in January 2011[9] albeit lying down,[10] in a car park near its former position. There were calls for it to be returned to Birmingham,[9] but the owner, Lesley Maby[10] (wife of the late Nigel[10]), refused to sell it.[9]


Point Coordinates
(links to map & photo sources)
Manzoni Gardens 52°28′40″N 1°53′42″W / 52.477682°N 1.895131°W / 52.477682; -1.895131 (Manzoni Gardens)
King Kong Car Co. (Camp Hill) 52°28′17″N 1°52′40″W / 52.471475°N 1.877836°W / 52.471475; -1.877836 (King Kong Car Co. (Camp Hill))
King Kong Car Co. (Ladypool Road, Sparkbrook) 52°27′18″N 1°52′39″W / 52.454989°N 1.877578°W / 52.454989; -1.877578 (King Kong Car Co. (Ladypool Road, Sparkbrook))
Ingliston Market 55°56′33″N 3°22′59″W / 55.942555°N 3.382936°W / 55.942555; -3.382936 (Ingliston Market)
Skirsgill Auction Mart, Penrith 54°39′13″N 2°45′59″W / 54.653538°N 2.766318°W / 54.653538; -2.766318 (Skirsgill Auction Mart, Penrith) former, standing location
Skirsgill Auction Mart, Penrith 54°39′07″N 2°46′01″W / 54.651820°N 2.766822°W / 54.651820; -2.766822 (Skirsgill Auction Mart, Penrith) recumbent location

As of August 2011, the statue was visible on the Google Maps' satellite view of both its Edinburgh[11] and Penrith[12] sites.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Noszlopy, George T. (1998). Public Sculpture of Birmingham including Sutton Coldfield. Public Sculpture of Britain 2. Liverpool University Press. p. 170. ISBN 0-85323-682-8. 
  2. ^ a b c Anon (2005-10-04). "-". Edinburgh Evening News. 
  3. ^ "University of Warwick Art Collection - Artists - Nicholas Monro". University of Warwick. Retrieved 22 August 2011. 
  4. ^ Peter Stuyvesant Foundation, City Sculpture Project 1972 Staff (1972). "City Sculpture (A Special Issue)". Studio International (Warehouse Publishing Ltd) 184 (946). ISBN 0-902063-09-X. 
  5. ^ a b c Radio Birmingham interview with Munro, 11 May 1972, transcribed in part in Towers, Alan (July–August 1972). "Birmingham: Nicholas Munro". Studio International 184 (946): 18. 
  6. ^ a b c "Birmingham garage owner buys King Kong statue". ATV Today. 1972-09-18. ATV Midlands. Retrieved 2013-05-05. 
  7. ^ "Nicholas Monro". Retrieved 22 August 2011. 
  8. ^ King Kong at this location can been seen in the second episode of the first series of the BBC TV series 'Gangsters'. 21 minutes into this episode, one of the characters is shown walking down Ladypool Road passing King Kong Kars Ko and the statue of King Kong
  9. ^ a b c d e "King Kong statue could be heading back to Birmingham". Birmingham Mail. 2011-01-25. Retrieved 12 August 2011. 
  10. ^ a b c d e "King Kong sculpture soon to tower over Cumbrian Saturday market". Cumberland News. 2011-01-28. Retrieved 22 August 2011. 
  11. ^ "Google Maps satellite view - Ingliston Market". Google Maps. Google. Retrieved 22 August 2011. 
  12. ^ "Google Maps satellite view - Skirsgill Auction Mart". Google Maps. Google. Retrieved 22 August 2011. 

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