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Community art project brightens Nottinghamshire’s Netherfield Station bridge

Urban artist, Lionel Stanhope gets creative on Netherfield Station bridge.

Graffiti along the rail network has been an on-going problem for Network Rail for some time. Their previous approach was to paint over the offending damage, which only led to providing a fresh canvas to be retagged. They decided a few years back to take a new approach and started to commission urban artists to create murals in an effort to deter further instances of graffiti along their infrastructure. This initiative appears to have worked and the bridge at Netherfield station, which has long been a victim of graffiti, was included in their next scheme of works.

When approached, the Poacher Line Community Rail Partnership (CRP) was delighted to work with Network Rail and the East Midlands Railway (EMR) Community Rail team to bring a community element to the project. Network Rail had commissioned London based urban artist, Lionel Stanhope to come up with a design for the station bridge, but it was decided it would be much more exciting to engage with the community and use their ideas to create the finished mural for the bridge. Funding for the project was provided jointly from Network Rail, the CRP and EMR, via a successful application to their Community Development Fund.

Running physical art workshops was the initial thought, but due to Covid-19 it was decided that a virtual project would be more appropriate. The Poacher Line officer designed a template for ideas to be submitted and the project was given the working title of “We are Netherfield Station” With the help of Jenny Eurge, the Gedling locality officer, contacts were made with local schools and youth groups and the template emailed out for ideas to be sent in. The rail officer also joined the local Facebook pages for Netherfield and Colwick to get the project advertised across the community.

115 entries were received, mainly from the local schools of Netherfield Primary and St. John Baptist, Colwick and chocolate prizes were awarded for the top three at each school; which we hear went down very well! The CRP took the opportunity to deliver some really important Rail Safety presentations to 165 children across both schools.

The final design was decided and a slot booked for Lionel to start; fingers crossed the weather would be fine! On Thursday the 5 August a work party consisting of volunteers from Network Rail and EMR; along with the Poacher Line officer prepped the bridge ready for Lionel to work his magic. This consisted of clearing loose masonry and vegetation before painting over 120m2 of existing graffiti.

On Tuesday 10 August, Lionel started work on the bridge and the feedback from passer-by’s has been super positive, with everyone commenting on how much better the bridge looks. One side of the bridge has a huge Welcome sign; with the entrance to the station containing the community mural element.

The Mayor of Gedling, Cllr Lawrence and his wife Wendy were invited to view the art work on Friday 13 August and to meet the artist and representatives from Network Rail, EMR and the Poacher Line CRP. We intend to bring the children to the bridge when they return to school in September for them to see their designs come alive!

Jo Andrews, community rail officer for the Poacher Line said: “This has been a wonderful project to be involved with; engaging with local communities to enhance our stations is what community rail is all about. The enthusiasm of the children involved and the positive comments we have received from local residents is fantastic and we hope that the mural will deter any further instances of graffiti and will be enjoyed by all those passing through the station for many years to come. I would like to thank all those who contributed ideas and Network Rail and East Midlands Railway for their support to make this project a success”