Rail passengers, residents and shoppers in Ashford can now enjoy an even more pleasant journey through the Newtown Road underpass, following this second step in the regeneration of the area being driven by Network Rail, Ashford Borough Council, artist Lionel Stanhope and local secondary school pupils.
The busy underpass, which connects Ashford station’s regional platforms with international services, Newtown Road and nearby retail outlets, now has two striking murals painted on either side of the East Stour River, with new lighting being added in the coming weeks to complete the transformation.
Following a design competition held at the local North School, whose pupils use the underpass every day, the winning designs have been recreated on the wall by renowned artist Lionel Stanhope who has to date completed more than 50 murals on or near stations in Kent and Sussex.
The chosen images celebrate Ashford’s rich history and was designed collaboratively by a group of year nine pupil from the North School.
Following the connections made because of this project, Network Rail and Lionel Stanhope have also carried out further engagement with pupils at the North School, hoping to inspire a new generation of railway engineers and artists. Network Rail have also volunteered staff and equipment to contribute to the regeneration further by carrying out an extensive litter pick in the local area.
The improvements to the underpass complement the council’s plans to encourage cycling and walking throughout the town over the next ten years, as well as responding to calls made by residents in the recent Town Centre Consultation to provide safer outdoor areas for commuting.
The new look underpass will be completed at the end of Summer 2019.