Graffiti along the rail network has been an on-going problem for Network Rail for some time. Their usual approach was to paint over the offending damage, which only led to providing a fresh canvas to be re-tagged. 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 we were approached by Network Rail and East Midlands Railway Community Rail Team to bring a community element to the project, we jumped at the chance. Funding was secured which came jointly from Network Rail, the CRP and the EMR Community Development Fund.
We had the idea to reach out to the community to ask for their ideas and create a mural based on their designs. We had a meeting and while physical art workshops would have been prefered, due to Covid-19 it was decided a virtual approach was the best option.
The rail officer for the Poacher Line designed a template around the theme of “We are Netherfield Station” and with the help of the Gedling Locality Officer at Gedling Borough Council, we sent out the template to local schools, youth and community groups. We also joined the local Facebook pages of Netherfield & Colwick to spread the message far and wide. 115 entries were received; mainly from Netherfield Primary School and St John Baptist Primary School in Colwick. The rail officer chose the top three entries at each school and awarded large bars of chocolate, which went down very well! We also took the opportunity to deliver important Rail Safety presentations to 165 children over the two schools.
Renowned London based Urban Artist, Lionel Stanhope was commissioned to take all the ideas and create one community mural for the bridge. It was decided the wall opposite the entrance would contain the “Welcome to Netherfield” sign, with the community mural flanking the entrance to the station on the opposite side.
A date was set for the artist to start and a community action day was held on Thursday 5th August with volunteers from Network Rail and EMR preparing the wall ready for Lionel to apply the mural. This consisted of removing loose masonry and vegetation and painting 120m2 of wall!
Good weather favoured us on Tuesday 10th August when Lionel started on the bridge. First to be added was the “Welcome to Netherfield” sign, with the two community murals following over the next couple of days. The murals were then coated in an anti-graffiti paint to stop any damage.
On Friday 13th August we were pleased to welcome Cllr and Mrs Lawrence, the Mayor & Mayoress of Gedling to come and look at the bridge and meet Lionel. We have received so many positive messages of support from both passers-by and on social media; it truly has been an amazing project to be involved in and showcases the power of Community Rail.