Adding a splash of colour to South Wigston

Published: Monday, 19 June 2023

*Shared in partnership with Network Rail and Leicestershire Craft Centre*

Network Rail have teamed up with the Leicestershire Craft Centre, as well as other community groups, to create and paint an art mural to prevent vandalism and trespass in South Wigston, near Leicester.

Over the past two weeks, Katharine Wright, the mural’s artist from the Leicestershire Craft Centre, as well as volunteers from Network Rail, East Midlands Railway, CrossCountry, Leicestershire County Council, Oadby & Wigston Borough Council, Wigston Academy, South Wigston High School, Glen Hills Primary School and Holmes Court and Holmes House care home have been busy working their magic on the bridge at South Wigston station.

The creation of the mural comes after a significant increase in trespass and vandalism in the area. It is hoped that this community-led project will improve wellbeing for passengers and those participating, as well as boosting the image of the station and enhancing passenger experience.

The decision to create this work also lies within research which suggests people are less likely to vandalise something in their local community if it has been created by local people and is something which is meaningful to them.

This artwork is relevant and meaningful to members of the community and uses things such as wayfinding, local landmarks, and the local history of the area, whilst still linking back towards sustainable travel and nature.

Today (Monday 19 June) Steve Hopkinson, Network Rail’s Operations Director in the East Midlands, unveiled the bridge at South Wigston at a ribbon cutting ceremony.

Steve Hopkinson, Network Rail’s Operations Director in the East Midlands, said: “It has been brilliant to see members of the community come together for this project, we know the benefits art murals can bring and South Wigston station looks much better with a splash of colour.

“I’d like to thank everyone who has been involved in this fantastic project and I hope that the community enjoys the mural as much as we have enjoyed creating it.”

Elisha Allen, Network Rail’s Community Safety Manager in the East Midlands, said: “It's really great to see members of the local community coming together to produce some fantastic artwork to improve the look of the local area.

“We want South Wigston's railway infrastructure to be a clean and welcoming environment for our passengers and residents living alongside the railway. We are hoping the new artwork will inspire people to take pride in the area and continue to do so for years to come.”

Katharine Wright, Owner of Leicestershire Craft Centre, said: "It's been an absolute pleasure visiting local schools to gather artwork for the bridge mural. All the students worked hard and tackled the brief with great enthusiasm to produce brilliant drawings and lettering to reflect their local community.

“I feel very privileged to have been given the opportunity to put them all together and reproduce the artwork on the bridge for everyone to enjoy, hopefully for years to come. It's also been great fun working with the fantastic volunteers, and schoolchildren who came to help paint the design over the last fortnight."

Oadby & Wigston borough councillor Carl Walter, who represents the South Wigston ward, said: “Extensive research supports the idea that people are less likely to vandalise something within their local community if it has been created by local individuals and holds personal significance to them. This art mural truly reflects the spirit and significance of our community, incorporating elements of wayfinding, local landmarks, and the rich history of our area. Additionally, it remains rooted in the values of our deep connection to nature.

“We extend our deepest gratitude to Network Rail, the Leicestershire Craft Centre, and all the community groups and individuals who have contributed their time, skills, and enthusiasm to bring this vision to life. It is through such collaborative efforts that we can foster a sense of pride and ownership within our community while promoting a safe and inviting environment for all.”

Kaye Robinson, Community Engagement Manager for EMR said: “The mural has been a great collaborative project, each community volunteer has contributed to brightening up South Wigston station and helped create a more colourful and interesting space for everyone who uses it.

“Railways have always played a vital role within local communities, and they become better gateways when communities are engaged in making them more welcoming for customers and visitors.”

Clare Shaw, CrossCountry’s Regional Customer Service Manager for the East Midlands & East Anglia, said: “Having the chance to work hand-in-hand with local groups on beautifying the bridge has been so rewarding, and brings us closer to the communities served by CrossCountry. I hope local people and visitors to South Wigston enjoy the bridge’s new look, and that it helps to alleviate the issues around antisocial behaviour that we’ve been seeing in the area recently.”

Picture top - Tins of paint lined up against the bridge as work took place

Picture middle right - Cllr Rosemarie Adams volunteering to help with the paint work