Castle Vale Retail Park

Completed for:
Castle Vale Retail Park
Chester Road, Castle Vale
B35 6HB
Completed by:


The previous sign at the entrance of Castle Vale Retail Park in Birmingham blew down in the very high winds in February 2014. A photograph of the sign, which stood 12 metres tall before falling, appeared in the press as one of several areas of damage as a result of the winds.

Having fallen across a dual carriageway, it was a huge relief for the managers of the site that nobody had been hurt.  It was so large that the emergency services were called upon to remove it safely.                 

The Tender

Several professional sign makers were called to tender for the replacement and come with ideas for a sturdy design that was in keeping with its surroundings. 3 companies were then selected to put forward ideas, costings and a proposal, which then had to be approved by the landlords of the retail park.

Signs Now’s proposal proved to be the best and most cost effective solution, so we were instructed to produce the sign, subject to the structural engineer’s reports and calculations. 

The Design

From an aesthetic point of view, the inspiration for the curved design of the sign came from the nearby Spitfire Island; a major landmark for Birmingham’s engineering past. The design of the monument which stands on the island reflects the history of the manufacturing of the Spitfire aircraft in the area, which were deployed during the Second World War.  It would have cost less and been easier to manufacture to have a flat edge on the design, but we were keen to incorporate the shape of the wing, which was very important to the landlord and to the area.

The Specification

When Signs Now’s proposal was presented to the client, they were impressed with how comprehensive it was. 

It was to measure 12 metres tall by 4.5 metres wide at its widest point and would weigh 7.5 tonnes.  

The pad of concrete needed to ensure that the sign would have a strong footing consisted of 72 cubic metres of poured concrete, which, when poured into the hole, would weigh a staggering 150,000kgs.  

The structural engineer advised us to use 16mm thick steel posts with 400mm x 400mm dimensions, made in one solid piece.

Manufacture & Logistics

The whole structure was manufactured in house by Signs Now. The steel used was approved by new EU regulations and was grit blasted with an epoxy primer and finished with a white, polyurethane gloss finish paint and then clad in aluminium panels. 

Once it was made we had to have specialist transport and road permits and a police escort to transport the wide load along the motorway as it took up 2 lanes. 

The sign was loaded onto the trailer by crane very carefully and secured ready for the slow trip to Birmingham, where the site was prepared fully for its arrival.

The Excavation

Before having the sign delivered to site, a hole needed to be excavated ready to be made into a pad that the sign would fix to.  

It measured 6m x 6m x 2m deep and we then manufactured and installed a steel ground cage where the high strength C35 concrete would be poured in to and left for 4 weeks to fully set.

The Installation

Once the sign arrived on site, we needed a special crane to lift it. It had to be installed out of hours in the middle of the night so as not to interfere with the retail park or provide a safety hazard to pedestrian and our own staff, which meant waiting until all stores had closed at midnight. In addition we needed to close off a lane to allow us enough space to work, meeting the chapter 8 highway regulations. 

The sign was lifted in one and dropped on to the pad in one piece and bolted down with nylon nuts. Whilst installing we protected the paving and the road with thick wooden boards to prevent any possible damage from the machinery and sign. We had 12 of our in house specialist team on site during installation - the only 3rd party were the crane driver and the transport company who delivered the sign to site. 

The Result

In all, the installation took us around 5-6 hours and we had to work slowly and safely following strict risk assessments step-by-step.

The result is the biggest sign we’ve ever made, installed safely and securely for years to come, plus a very happy client, tenants and landlord.