Tonbridge tones up with community art.

, April 19th, 2017

Several months ago Tonbridge station’s Station Manager, Michelle Harris, on learning about Sussex CRP’s first prize win at last year’s ACoRP Awards for best permanent art project, asked if her station could do something to transform their rather plain underpass into something a bit more colourful. 

Artist Graham Upton admires the handiwork of the Tonbridge artists.

Artist Graham Upton admires the handiwork of the Tonbridge artists.

Whilst she could have simply employed Graham Upton the artist, to show off his amazing artistic talent, Michelle wanted the project to involve the local community (and the station cat). Several local youth clubs were contacted and luckily the Tonbridge Hub, on behalf of their young people, accepted the challenge.

There were several planning meetings which included the young people, where a theme of the history of the station was decided upon.  Esther, one of the youth leaders mentioned that her grandfather had worked at the station and could his image be included?  This lead to much research by Graham into images of past station masters, the original station building and old model trains up to the present day.  The project started and everyone got to work mapping out the design, one wall depicts the history of the station, the other some of Tonbridge’s landmark buildings.  Many exhausting hours later (Graham worked his socks off to get the project finished in time) all the blobs and sketch lines were transformed into a fluid, colourful, thoughtfully designed image that links the station to its car-park. During the week many station users passing through offered their praise for the work, some stopping to take photographs, local social media was merrily tweeting and twittering.

The Tonbridge Station mural, reflecting on the station’s past and present.

To mark the end of the week Sussex CRP held an official opening ceremony (any excuse for a party with cupcakes and sparkling drinks), the Mayor of Tonbridge came to cut a red ribbon and make a speech, as did Southeastern’s passenger services director Dave Wornham, the artists and their families, directors from Sussex Community Rail Partnership,  local press and some of the station staff all joined in the celebration. A perfect ending to a fabulous project.

This project was part funded by generous grants from both Southeastern and the Association of Community Rail Partnerships.

The station cat has been immortalised within the images. Can you spot her?