Work began on the project in 1994 and cost £1 million. Most of the project funding was provided by the National Lottery. The Angel was finished on 16 February 1998.
The sculpture is known locally as the "Gateshead Flasher", because of its location and appearance. The sculpture was decorated in 1998 by fans of the Newcastle United football team who paid tribute to local hero Alan Shearer by putting a £1,000 team shirt over the Angel, complete with Shearer's name and famous number 9. The shirt stayed up for 20 minutes until the police removed it. In the 2000 film Purely Belter the angel (misidentified as female) is invoked as the "guardian angel of fucking toe-rags". The teenage delinquent heroes hope "she'll see us through" in their illicit money-making plans to obtain season tickets for Newcastle United.