A run-down, forbidding-looking rail bridge has been brightened up by work from some local college students, CHARLES KING writes
The footbridge over the Brighton Line between Coulsdon Town railway station and Coulsdon Woods, which was replaced in 2006 when the Coulsdon Bypass was constructed has been a problem to local residents ever since.
Although it is owned by Network Rail, who say that they have a contract with Transport for London to maintain it, including the lighting, all as part of the bypass maintenance, in turn TfL, say that they have subcontracted this work to Croydon Council, who of course deny it.
So when there has been the need for any repairs it has taken months of wrangling before anything gets done.
Earlier this year, when the bridge was in poor condition, both Network Rail and TfL attended site meetings on the bridge and they have now agreed responsibility to maintain the bridge.
Around the same time, local community groups got together to try to do something to improve the state of the bridge. Coulsdon Manor Rotary Club approached East Coulsdon Residents’ Association and suggested that it would be a good idea if the bridge could be cleaned up and improved with some local public art.
Network Rail were very enthusiastic when approached and willing to provide support for the project.
Coulsdon College were approached and meetings held. East Coulsdon RA were asked if they could provide some information of historic events in Coulsdon. Suggestions included speeches by Emmeline Pankhurst, Charlie Chaplin visiting his mother in the Cane Hill hospital and transport themes connected with Coulsdon, such as the annual veteran car run and the Brighton Belle train which regularly ran under the bridge.
Under the direction of Fiona Brennan, Coulsdon College’s head of the art faculty, students set about planning and organising murals to cover all 44 panels on the bridge, to include some Coulsdon landmarks such as Farthing Downs, Cane Hill Tower and the local churches.
Earlier this month, Network Rail had the bridge swept and cleaned, and a base coat of paint was put on all the panels. Over the the following few days, the students from Coulsdon College applied stencils and free art work to the panels, while members of the Rotary Club shepherded pedestrians past the work and explained to local residents what the project was about.
The reaction from residents was positively enthusiastic.
And it is clear that the bridge is now a much better cleaner, brighter and more pleasant to walk through than it has been for many years.
- Charles King is a member of the East Coulsdon Residents’ Association
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