This project was born when Community Rail Lancashire (CRL) began work with the Carlton Junior and Infant School in Dewsbury, whose pupils rarely engaged with the railway and in many cases, had never been on a train before. The school’s headteacher was keen for this to change, and for pupils to raise their aspirations and ambitions.
Pupils from the school’s art club wanted to create a piece of artwork that both reflected the town and its diversity, and would give the Grade-II listed station a more welcoming environment and community feel.
Local artist Candida Wood spent ten weeks with the art club, working with pupils on a David Hockney inspired mural. The children decided which important landmarks should be included to reflect Dewsbury and its communities, choosing a train and viaduct, countryside, the town’s famous mills, and both a church and mosque.
One pupil said he wanted the piece to ‘put Dewsbury on the map’, resulting in the idea of pointing an arrow from the running board to a globe. After members of the school community had painted the mural, an image was printed for the station, with the original put on display at the school.
Aside from the artwork, more than 200 hundred pupils from the school took part in railway education sessions, with classes travelling to Manchester, Leeds, Bradford, and York, during which they learnt how to buy a ticket, where to wait on the platform, and how to behave on the train.
Children also took part in sessions where they learnt about rail safety, careers in the industry, and explored opportunities of using the railway to commute to other cities in the North. Parents were engaged too, learning about Family and Friend railcards, the dangers of trespassing, and potential careers in rail.
The mural’s title reflects a deeper understanding of life, travel, and future opportunities gained by the children involved in the project, using rail to broaden their ‘Horizons’. The artwork has also given the children an enormous sense of pride, and a feeling of ownership over their local station.
The eye-catching mural, which was supported by TransPennine Express, has helped to raise the profile of the station and Dewsbury as a town, signified at a grand opening event attended by local MPs, the Mayor of Kirklees, local councillors, and the Deputy Lieutenant to the Queen. The children were hailed as a “credit to their community”, with the mural perfectly “portraying their ethos, values, and diversity.”