The statue that tells the story of how Hemel was rebuilt from disaster

In the middle of a roundabout in a Hertfordshire town lies an unusual sculpture, with a hidden meaning behind it.

The Phoenix Gateway Sculpture is located at the entrance to Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, from the end of the spur road from the M1 motorway at Junction 8, where you can see it from afar.

This is where the motorway then turns into the A414 Green Lane and Breakspear Way.

READ MORE: The disastrous explosion in Hemel that was heard across Europe

There is not one but three blue steel arches installed on the roundabout in 2009 designed by sculptor Jose Zavala.

The statue is a reflection of the recovery of Hemel and the Maylands business estate in particular, after the Buncefield oil explosion which happened in December 2005.

Cleverly designed, the arches are engineered to withstand tornado force winds and the impact by a lorry – given that it’s on a busy roundabout.

The series of blue steel arches, rising to 10m, create a powerful piece of commercial art in the roundabout

The name, ‘Phoenix Gateway’ was chosen from suggestions made by local residents to a panel of judges drawn from the Maylands Partnership, Dacorum Borough Council and the Dacorum Arts Forum.

Its approximate cost was £350,000 and was mainly funded by the East of England Development Agency (EEDA) with some contribution from Dacorum Borough Council too.

The sculpture is designed to reduce the huge impact of a vehicle accident on the roundabout
The sculpture is designed to reduce the huge impact of a vehicle accident on the roundabout
(Image: Nylah Salam)

The Buncefield fire was as a result of safeguard failure leading the oil tanks to overflow with staff not realising the capacity had been reached.

A fuel and air vapour cloud formed which caused an explosion equivalent to 30 tonnes of TNT, measuring 2.4 on the Richter scale.

Residents were in fear and panic and some homes destroyed to rubble. It was even reported that the explosion was heard as far as Europe in Holland

Juts off the roundabout is Breakspear Park which was built in 1984.

This was formerly the head quarters of the BP Oil Ltd

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