It cost more than £1.5million and is the tallest public sculpture in Britain.

            Spike statue

But now The B of the Bang in Manchester could be torn down amid worries about its safety.

Just months after it was unveiled in 2005, some of the giant spikes from the 184ft structure began to fall 80ft to the ground, triggering fears that a pedestrian or motorist could be speared.

Local residents christened the sculpture Kerplunk – after the popular children’s game in which thin sticks are plucked out of a tube.

As problems continued, a slip road bordering it was closed, then part of a pavement next to the nearby City of Manchester Stadium was cordoned off.

There was further panic when the sculpture – which was funded by the North West Development Agency and the European Regional Development Fund – began to sway in high winds.

Since then, 170 weights have been fitted to the spikes, but its structural problems have not been solved and engineers claim its future is in doubt.

But this week the Bang’s designer Thomas Heatherwick, 36, was praised as "potentially one of the great British designers of modern times" as Manchester Metropolitan University awarded him an honorary doctorate.

Last night, engineers branded the sculpture a "ludicrous waste of public money".

One senior source said: "It has been a nightmare from the start. The spikes exert too much strain on the centre of the sculpture. The fault lies in the design and it will eventually be pulled down because it is a danger."

The sculpture, unveiled by Linford Christie, was commissioned to mark the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester and supposedly captures the explosion of a starting pistol.

It was inspired by Christie’s famous remark about his speed off the block – "I’ll be gone by the B of the Bang".

Mr Heatherwick said: "The B of the Bang is close to my heart, but the question of maintenance is complicated. I am confident it will be resolved because it is a beautiful and important project for Manchester."