It was raised into place under cover of darkness.

But now Glasgow's newest statue is set to shine brightly over the city.

The sculpture, named Light and Life, is once again in its rightful place on top of the former Co-operative Wholesale Society headquarters on Morrison Street.

The statue of a woman, gilded in 23 carat gold leaf and made by artist Kenny Mackay, is now clearly visible to motorists on the M8 from the adjacent Kingston Bridge.

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Bill Ritchie, a director of Atelier Ten design consultants and engineers, commissioned the statue as a tribute to his grandmother, Ruby.

He said: "It was a personal thing for me. My grandmother had always spoken about the statue and when it came down 20 years ago I was really sorry to see her go.

"I have only heard this anecdotally but I've been told the original statue was concrete and had to be moved on grounds of safety - but it left the building lacking.

HeraldScotland: Light and Life statue on top of the Co-op building  Photo: Nick Ponty

"There are very few images of the original but Kenny had done a lot of research to make the statue as true to the original as possible."

The new statue, Light and Life, is made from fibre glass and covered in gold.

It is based closely on a similar statue by the sculpture James Alexander Ewing that stands at Glasgow City Chambers.

Ewing created several sculptures for the Scottish Co-Operative Wholesale Society in Glasgow, including a group representing Justice and Brotherhood and a statue of the goddess Cybele with a pair of lions as well as the statue Light and Life.

Light and Life was removed in 1994 when it crumbled due to environmental damage.

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But the sculpture had also suffered a near miss in 1911 when it was almost destroyed in a fire that took over the building's dome and melted the statue's steel support base.

The fire was extinguished by crews using water from the River Clyde.

Due to the enormous crane used to lift Light and Life on to the building, organisers had to ask Glasgow City Council for a road closure.

HeraldScotland: Sculptor Kenny Mackay, left with his statue titled 'Light And Life' in his studio in Glasgow. Pictured at right is Bill Ritchie, director with Atelier Ten who had the idea to recreate the statue.Photograph by Colin Mearns

Bill added: "We lifted the statue into place overnight. Firstly, because we needed the road to be close to make way for the crane and this was a way to cause minimal disruption to drivers and secondly, so as not to distract drivers coming over the Kingston Bridge.

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"We were very grateful to Colin Boyle at Glasgow City Council for organising a road closure at short notice, Ross Stark of GRBS Ltd and Greig Douglas of Wiseman Associates who, as well as financial contribution, gave so much of their time and effort to make the installation go so seamlessly."

The statue is 12 foot high and made from fibre glass.
Atelier Ten paid for most of the costs of the work, aided by several companies who have provided work free or at cost price, including Mackay, Telfer Graphics, Woolgar Hunter structural engineers, ICAM construction, Cartwright Lighting, MJM and Emtec electrical wiring.
Members of the public also contributed around £5000 via a crowd funding campaign. 

Niall Murphy, of Glasgow City Heritage Trust, said: "It's a lost piece of Glasgow heritage and it is great to see it back in its rightful place. 
"It will really catch the eye of people going across the Kingston Bridge."
In 1886, the Scottish Co-operative and Wholesale Society hired the architectural firm of Bruce & Hay to design a complex of warehouses, sales rooms and offices to house their growing business.
It was completed in 1893 and remained the headquarters of SCWS until their merger with Co-operative Wholesale Society.
In 1977, the Morrison Street building was transferred into a retail hypermarket inside the historic listed building before being partially demolished to form flats and commercial units.