It took three men walking in a very peculiar fashion to move just the faces on the world-famous Black Sabbath Bench in Birmingham, as you can see in this video.

But that’s because the giant artwork – which was this week temporarily removed for refurbishment – really is made of heavy metal. The sheer number of security-enhanced specialist bolts used to keep the bench together meant it took longer than expected to free even the faces on their own – and several hours to dismantle the entire sculpture.

The bench was originally unveiled in Gas Street Church in the Westside quarter of the city in February 2019. Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler then sailed along the nearby canal on a narrowboat to unveil it on Broad Street in late June that year.

Almost five years later, on Monday 5 February, Westside BID (Business Improvement District) commissioned the removal of the bench for work to restore it back to pristine condition. The refurbishment is being masterminded by Dudley-based company Midtherm, which specialises in all types of creative metalwork.

Mark Jones, sales and marketing director at Midtherm, explained that one of his first jobs would be to decide if Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward needed new heads. He said: “It’s so exciting to be involved with a project like this.

“The materials and fittings used have weathered as you would expect them to, so we’ll have a good look at it to decide what to do and if we need to make a prototype with new faces for approval. We will probably keep the rusty look of the bench slats, given that they are not made out of stainless steel.

“We will also look at the faces to see what to do with those. It’s possible the bench could end up with a new look using enamel.

“Whatever we do, it will end up looking as good as new, if not even better.” Mike Olley, general manager at Westside BID, said: “The bench is so popular it needs a big sprucing up. It is arguably Birmingham and the West Midlands’ biggest-used ‘engagement public art’ piece.  

“Visitors from all over the world enjoy seeing it and that’s a real tribute to Black Sabbath – a truly global bunch of Brummies. We are investing several thousands of pounds in this refurbishment, looking at replacing the heads and bench struts with a cleaner, more streamlined material.”