IT’S big, it’s a festival icon and despite its longevity, its maker said he could not wait to put the sledge hammer into it.
The giant guitar that has had pride of place atop Tamworth Hospital every festival for the past 30 years has got the boot, a victim of hospital redevelopment.
The 10.2-metre long by 3.6-metre wide guitar, complete with strings and flashing lights, was hand built by Sam Hudson back in the early 1980s as a public relations gimmick, and a way for the hospital to connect with the growing festival fan base.
Little did they know the guitar would gain iconic status, placed on bus tours and a must-see photo opportunity for festival-goers, just a few years before the other giant guitar Tamworth is famous for came into existence.
“I think this one is better, but I might be a little biased,” Sam said.
Running one or two days’ late in putting it up one year, Sam said the hospital switchboard ran hot with people asking where the “whopping big guitar” was.
Built of radiata pine and chipboard and with electricity running to its 62 lights, Sam said it took four or five solid weeks and a few cheeky beers to complete.
It’s had a lick of paint here and there but for its age has required very little maintenance, Sam said.
But as the Tamworth hospital is redeveloped this year, the giant icon has proved a bit of a burden to house and transport.
“It takes four men to get it out of the shed and takes a crane to put it up. It’s a very big job every year,” Sam said.
He said the maintenance men would not be sorry to see the back of the giant instrument and he was pleased to be the first to swing the sledge hammer.
Tamworth hospital general manager Brad Hansen said he was a bit concerned about telling Sam his “baby” had to go but said the large storage space required to keep the guitar under cover meant its days were numbered.
“We’re sorry to see it go, but realistically, with the redevelopment, it simply wasn’t practical to keep it any more,” Mr Hansen said.
Mr Hansen said last-minute rehoming efforts had been made by both Tamworth Regional Council and The Northern Daily Leader in recent weeks, but both had declined due to structural, storage and transport concerns.
The final resting place of the guitar will be the Tamworth Waste Management Facility.