Concept and aims
To befit Prestonpans’ standing as Scotland’s ‘mural town’, murals and paintings have been a feature of the local station for many years. In recent times, however, the previous artwork had deteriorated beyond repair.
East Lothian Community Rail Partnership (CRP) wanted to create a series of new murals depicting the industrial history and transport heritage of Prestonpans. Working with local artists and the art department at Preston Lodge High School, the partnership used funding from CrossCountry to design and install four murals designed to bring the area’s past back to life.
The CRP was determined to not only promote local content in the subject of the murals, but also to work with local artists and celebrate and showcase local talent. Local artist Lesley Innes created images of Mallard, which holds the record for the fastest steam locomotive in the world, and a 1950s Bedford Wiles coach, while fellow artist Thomas Ewing chose to highlight the Tranent to Cockenzie Waggonway, which was opened in 1722 and was possibly the first railway in Scotland. The final mural, created by the high school students, shows the site of the Prestongrange Heritage and Mining Museum, where coal was first mined by the monks of Newbattle Abbey in the 12th century.
Also depicted in two of the murals is local feline celebrity Rupert of Bankton, the cat who frequented Prestonpans Station for many years, and was so loved by locals and passengers alike that a statue in the town was erected in his honour.
As well as all the artistry being sourced from within Prestonpans itself, the photography, digitisation, and printing of the murals was also handled locally, with the CRP partnering with Hangar Art and Framing in Drem, and East Lothian Council.
The new artwork is now in place, and the partnership has created a long-term solution to potential damage by printing the murals on recyclable polypropylene, which is highly durable and weather resistant.
The murals have been well-received by passengers and locals alike, and all stakeholders involved in the project, which was also supported by ScotRail and Community Rail Network, have stated how the artwork has given the station a ‘new lease of life’ and offered a gateway to the town that people can be proud of.
The murals were visited and enjoyed by a host of dignitaries prior to the reception for community rail held at the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood during Community Rail Week 2023.
Further information on the project can be found on the East Lothian CRP website, here.