Magical murals and improved lighting have transformed the Meldreth to Melbourn underpass, thanks to community action.
The A10 underpass between Melbourn village and Meldreth Station was treated to a makeover after the Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Community Rail Partnership Officer coordinated a survey in June 2022, which showed that out of 375 responses about lighting, vegetation, and artwork, 69% of respondents would avoid using the underpass at night, and 62% felt the underpass was not lit well enough after dusk.
The project was funded by grants from Melbourn and Meldreth Parish Councils, South Cambridgeshire District Council, Govia Thameslink Railway, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, the Community Rail Development Fund, and SDC Contractors, with support from Cambridgeshire County Council and the Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Community Rail Partnership (CRP).
Two ‘meet the artist’ sessions were held at the Warm Hub in Melbourn for people in the community to explore and refine their ideas for the wall, resulting in a colourful border stretching the length of the underpass which includes plants, flowers, mushrooms and creatures.
The painting of the mural was completed over six days during the Easter Holidays, working with local artist Bec Barnes who transposed sketches and chalked out outlines, leaving volunteers to fill in with paint. The Council provided paint and paintbrushes for people to come and take part as much or as little as they wanted. More than 100 volunteers helped in the first week alone.
The murals serve as a living art gallery along the whole length of the underpass, with frames of different sizes and shapes painted on the walls. Each of these frames contains artwork representing 40 different groups and organisations including schools, youth groups, places of worship and community groups.
The makeover also includes new reflective paint throughout the underpass to naturally enhance light, new electric lights that come on earlier and stay on later, and the vegetation outside has been cut back to improve sight lines.
Cllr Susan van der Ven, Chair of the Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton CRP, said: “People of all ages, from babies and toddlers to grandparents, have come together to create this wonderful place in a short window of time. Seeing grassroots community action like this is truly heart-warming.
“We are also really pleased to make this area feel safe in response to a call from local people. Months of preparation have included indispensable advice and support from SDC Contractors, who have been on site at Melbourn Science Park for the past couple of years and wanted to contribute to a lasting community project. The Meldreth to Melbourn underpass is a great example of partnership at work.”
Cllr SallyAnn Hart, ward member for Melbourn, said: “It has been an absolute joy to witness the coming together of community groups over the Easter holidays and to see the underpass transformed so quickly. Vibrant designs have been lovingly transferred to the blank wall space and frames added. At one point, the raised painting walkway was full of enthusiastic artists! I took this opportunity to stand back and admire people from all ages and stages of life, working together to help create a safer space full of wonder for passers-by at any time of day.”
You can keep up to date with future news, projects, and events from the Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton CRP via their website.