A council has pledged to preserve a Banksy on a bridge in Hull following the “absolutely heartbreaking” decision that the structure is hazardous and will need to be demolished.
The depiction of a young boy – called Draw the Raised Bridge – caused a stir when it appeared on the Scott Street Bridge over the River Hull in January.
Banksy later confirmed its provenance on his social media account.
Now, a survey has found the bridge to be a hazard to shipping, Hull City Council said.
A spokeswoman said that, while there is no immediate risk to shipping on the river, both sides of the Grade II listed drawbridge will need to be removed.
She said: “As part of this complex operation, the council proposes to preserve the Banksy artwork by specialist removal into secure storage until it can be relocated adjacent to the original site, in keeping with its intended artistic statement and context.
“The internationally renowned artist’s work has been adopted by the city of Hull, instilling a sense of community pride that has continued as part of the lasting effect of the UK City of Culture’s legacy.”
Councillor Daren Hale, Hull City Council portfolio holder for economic investment and regeneration, said: “It is absolutely heartbreaking that we must take this course of action. The council has kept the bridge in place for as long as practically possible, but we have been advised that this is the only way to keep river traffic safe.
“Since it was revealed that the artwork on the bridge is a Banksy, visitors have flocked to the site to appreciate this unique piece of work and a lively street art culture has grown up around it.
“Alongside working with Historic England to ensure that the work to the bridge is carried out as sensitively as possible, we will also talk with local arts groups about how the Banksy should be redisplayed.
“Our aim is to ensure the Banksy remains part of the thriving street art culture in this area, and that the context of the artwork and the history of the bridge are fully respected and acknowledged in the final scheme.”
The work appeared on the bridge in January – prompting crowds to gather to see the spectacle – but it was soon defaced when someone covered it with white paint, which was later cleaned off by a local window cleaner.
The council responded by covering it with a protective layer.
Scott Street Bridge is a bascule bridge which was built in 1901 and was closed to vehicles in 1995. It has been raised permanently since then.
The council said that as the bridge is a Grade II listed structure, the works will be carried out in consultation with Historic England.
It said it has a responsibility to keep the River Hull, which has about 40 vessel movements a month, operational at all time.