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Railway art meets social history in milestone birthday for Urmston Station

The new artwork is unveiled at Urmston Station. Photo credit: Tony Miles.

Passengers arriving at Urmston Station in Greater Manchester are now able to indulge in a little ‘time travel’, following the unveiling of a series of artwork earlier this month marking the station’s 150th anniversary.

The new 12-panel artwork created by local artists was unveiled at the iconic Cheshire Lines station on 15 July. Standing on the westbound platform of the station, the display is just yards from the drinking fountain which first flowed a century and a half ago when the Cheshire Lines Committee opened the station.

Each panel tells the story of the evolution of rail while marking local, national and international milestones over the 150 years Urmston Station has been a key stopping point on the rail link between Manchester and Liverpool.

The artists’ brief was that, whilst railways were the theme, the objective was to create a piece of social history reflecting the issues, events and dress for each time period.

It was the Friends of Urmston Railway Station (FOURS) who came up with the idea for the novel artwork. Originally intending to use the talents of four local schools for the artwork, plans changed when the pandemic intervened, and it was decided that local artists, working from home, should take on the challenge.

From artist Michelle Hayes’ depiction of Locomotion No 1. – which hauled coal wagons on the world’s first public railway between Stockton and Darlington – to Cath Martin’s interpretation of the iconic 1930’s railway art with the Jolly Fisherman – the artwork captures the essence of what made the decades between 1872 and 2022 so distinctive and memorable.

The new artwork was unveiled by Owain Roberts, Regional Stakeholder Manager for Northern Trains (one of the main supporters of FOURS), with Trafford Mayor Cllr. Chris Boyes and Local MP Kate Green also in attendance.

The guests at Urmston Station on 15th July 2022.
Photo credit: Tony Miles.

Also joining the event was Network Rail’s Route Director for the North West, Phil James. He said: “The railway runs like a thread through our society and is interwoven with our history. This new artwork on a truly iconic station truly captures that relationship and I am delighted I could be there to officially mark the anniversary.

“What the Friends of Urmston Station have done is clearly illustrate the value of community involvement in the railway, something recently recognised as vitally important by the Williams-Shapps review and something we all need to build on if we are to re-build patronage on a railway network following one of the most challenging periods in recent history.”

Backing the work of the Friends group, David Hoggarth, Transport for the North’s Strategic Rail Director, said of the event: “I just want to say a big thanks for all the work Friends of Urmston Station are doing. It makes such a difference to have strong supporters of stations – which after all should be at the heart of the community. Well done!”