King Kong Park has been a labour of love. Over the past 6 months, we have not only worked to deliver a brand-new park that coincides with Birmingham hosting the 2022 Commonwealth Games, but we have also brought a piece of Brummie history back to life.
However, neither the park or King Kong would have become a reality without the help of our fantastic partners. From project managers to photographers and the renowned Monro family, we have had the pleasure of working alongside a plethora of talented, and skillful professionals.
When Marcus first revealed his ambitious vision to bring back Kong for the 2022 Commonwealth Games, it included the original sculpture from 1972. After exploring all avenues, we quickly discovered that the original Kong was not structurally sound and therefore not safe to be in the public domain, and was in fact, quite comfortable at his home in Penrith.
Undeterred and more determined than ever, we began brainstorming – how can we actually make this happen? We came to the conclusion that King Kong Park could still be possible, but with a new and improved King Kong.
The journey of creating a brand new Kong for 2022 started when our Marketing Manager, Jess, was nominated to make an out-of-the-blue phone call to Maude Monro, Nicholas Monro’s daughter. Nicholas Monro sculpted the original gorilla almost 50 years ago, before bringing him to Birmingham for a few short years and had believed that the local community was less than impressed by Kong. With the help of a handwritten letter by our Head of Design, Lex, followed by a visit to see the Monro family along with our Managing Director, Marcus, the family not only entertained our crazy idea to bring him back to life but quickly became an integral part of the entire process.
After agreeing our plans for a bigger and better – yet aesthetically identical – sculpture with the Monro family, with the help of Wolverhampton Gallery, we kickstarted the practical side of things by scanning Kong’s original maquette. Without the help of Carol Thompson at the gallery, we can categorically say that Kong wouldn’t have been recreated at all.
Scans of the original maquette were then sent to Johnny, Liam and the team at RoboCarv, who used their expertise to create the brand-new King Kong that will take pride of place in the Park. As their name suggests, King Kong was created by a robot, using the scans to carve the identical – yet even bigger – Kong out of polystyrene, before covering him in plaster, adding his steel appendages and then coating him in a resin that would be strong enough to drive a car over Kong! Crafting a 7m tall gorilla was a mammoth task, but the team at RoboCarv brought our vision to life, along with Chris, Laura and Reece Hill at Novus who managed the project from start to finish.
From the outset, it was essential that the new King Kong was bigger and better than the original, with Gateley working closely alongside the Cordia Blackswan legal team to secure the copyright for Kong.
In the meantime, several of our talented partners were working hard to plan and deliver the perfect home for King Kong. A special thanks goes to Nicola Fleet Milne, Chair of Colmore Bid, who introduced us to Event Men. The team at Event Men have been crucial in the creation of the park, including the astro turf, the bespoke handmade planters and seating, making it a safe space for tourists, families and the local community to enjoy Kong in all his glory. Chris and his team at EventMen brought to life the initial concept design created by Nigel and his team as Node.
The teams at EventMen, Node, Phase 2 Planning and GB Holdings have also been a huge help in the creation of the park. From the development to the management of the park, it wouldn’t be the success it is expected to be without their inputs.
A particularly big thank you goes to Terry and his team, who without them, bringing the park to life as the event we envisioned, wouldn’t have happened in the short time frame we had – they have pulled off a small miracle!
We’ve been lucky enough to have a wealth of support from local businesses and communities across Birmingham. We’re grateful for the continued support from Birmingham City Council and Birmingham transport in implementing road closures, pursuing planning applications and much more. We’d also like to thank JQ BID.
Additionally, the support from West Midlands Fire Service and St. John’s Ambulance is much appreciated, helping us to deliver a safe space where tourists, families and the local community can enjoy the 2022 Commonwealth Games safely and securely.
We’d also like to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to Bex Gaunt – a talented photographer who has dedicated so much of her time and energy to capturing the recreation of Kong.
The making of King Kong Park has been a rollercoaster. Although we have worked with many great partners, King Kong would still be just Marcus’ wild idea without the Cordia Blackswan team. Cate, our development manager and Jess, our sales and marketing manager have gone above and beyond in every way to bring a wild idea to life. From being consumed by park design, creation and event management to feasibly bringing back King Kong. A big shout out goes to Lex, our head of design who has forged a wonderful relationship with the Monro family. It is safe to say, without Lex’s dedication and hard work, whilst we would have a fantastic park, we would have a big King Kong sized hole.
At Cordia Blackswan, we always say our people are our biggest asset and our team goes beyond the red like and King Kong Park is a real example of this.
So if you’re looking for somewhere to relax, enjoy the Games or simply just a spot to take the kids during the summer holidays, join us at King Kong Park, where you can expect tasteful street food, live music and of course, a 7m gorilla.