Tolworth Tower garnered widespread attention recently after the appearance of a red lightning bolt carving down its face.

The story behind it is one of the more remarkable — and significant — tales to emerge from Britain's recent cultural history, and speaks to the dynamic past contributions of Tolworth, Surbiton and Kingston.

Many people recognized immediately that the red lightning bolt design was a homage to pop legend David Bowie and in particular his alter ego Ziggy Stardust.

It was placed on the building after the revelation that this world-famous Bowie persona — and the associated music and aesthetics — were first performed live at a pub just opposite the Tolworth Tower.

The gig at The Toby Jug pub happened 48 years ago, almost to the day, in February 1972.

Bowie went on to release 'The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars' in June 1972, and won lasting global acclaim for its innovative approach.

The Tolworth Tower's homage to this incredible piece of history in the area was brought to life through Tolworth-based community project SHEDx, run by local company The Community Brain.

One of the project leaders Robin Hutchinson MBE spoke with the Comet about the stunning community tribute to one of the UK's greatest musical exports:

"We've known for some time that The Toby Jug pub had a brilliant musical history. Led Zeppelin, Fleetwood Mac, Jethro Tull all played there.

"And of course we knew that Bowie played the first night of the Ziggy Stardust tour there too.

"It is this amazing idea that the moment that music changed, that fashion changed, that design changed, happened in Tolworth," Hutchinson said.

"It's classic that people rarely celebrate what's on their doorstep.

"We just wanted to do something that flew that flag to say 'this is a really important moment in the history of music, and it started in Tolworth'," he added.

The community leader praised Meadow Partners, the owners of Tolworth Tower, who support the SHEDx project and backed the lightning bolt idea to its completion.

As for getting the lightning bolt onto the side of the building itself, it just took the elbow grease of some passionate residents, armed with a simple if ambitious idea and the will to turn it into reality.

"It was a fabulous, hilarious headache. It involved people up in the Tower and then running down onto the roundabout saying: 'You've gone too far!'" Hutchinson said.

"Thank God for mobile phones because without them we would have had a real mess but the volunteers who came to do this were absolutely fantastic."

The response, Hutchinson said, had made the hilarious headache all the more worth it.

"It has been amazing. The response on social media has been unbelievable. People wondering what it was but also people from Tolworth itself saying proudly how it's a tribute to David Bowie.

"One of the big things is making people smile and to us it's worth that effort.

"It's having that reaction and it's great to see more and more people speaking fondly of Tolworth," he said.

SHEDx and The Community Brain are continuing to promote the Tolworth, Kingston and Surbiton area with a number of resident-led community projects, and are planning more Bowie-themed tributes ahead of the 50th anniversay of Ziggy Stardust in 2022.