Kent Community Rail Partnership has worked with a wide range of partners in our communities to add artwork, history boards, information panels and murals to brighten our stations and highlight the local area.
The Medway Valley Line has seen many projects to introduce artwork that celebrates communities along the line today and the rich history of the area.
During 2021, Govia Thameslink Railway sought help from Kent CRP to engage the local community around artwork to brighten the subway connecting Strood station to the town.
Street artist Graham Upton worked withstudents from Strood Academy who imagined the subway as a gateway connecting the local community with people and places by rail. Heading towards the station they wanted to show attractions in Medway, Kent and places further afield that people could travel to by train. Coming from the station the mural would showcase the amenities and attractions to be found in and around Strood.
The mural is a striking piece of community led artwork that celebrates Strood and the connections that rail travel makes possible.
During 2021, Southeastern’s station adoption group the Friends of Cuxton Station commissioned and installed an information panel outside the station to showcase the area’s natural beauty.
Places to explore from the station include the North Downs Way National Trail, Plantlife Ranscombe Farm Nature Reserve, National Trust Cobham Wood and Mausoleum, and the Kent Downs National Landscape.
2019 marked the beginning of an ongoing partnership with Five Ace Wood (Snodland) school. Students created rail related artwork for display in Snodland station’s booking hall.
2021 saw Network Rail and Kent CRP deliver a mural by renowned street artist Lionel Stanhope, depicting white trees which link to Five Acre Wood (Snodland) school who maintain the station gardens as our station adopters. The mural was part of a £0.5m package of station improvements.
Therese Hammond, Project Officer at Kent Community Rail Partnership, said: “The refurbished footbridge, tactile paving on the platforms, the colourful mural and station garden built and planted by Five Acre Wood students have improved the station environment for passengers and the local community.”
Further collaboration with Five Acre Wood (Snodland) school saw the development of the Sunflower Mural. Made from a collage of sunflower art created by students, it raises awareness of hidden disabilities, inviting us to celebrate differences. The sunflower is the symbol of hidden disabilities and the sunflower lanyard scheme is one the ways people can seek travel support from Southeastern. The artwork and its message received recognition at the 2022 Community Rail Awards.
During 2023, students from local schools; Maidstone Grammar School for Girls, Maplesden Noakes and Mid Kent College worked with street artist Graham Upton to create a mural about what Maidstone means to them.
Claudine Russell, Lead Member for Leisure and Arts at MBC said: “Up to 12 students from each school and the college took part in initial design workshops. They were shown some basic techniques of street art, how to create letters and develop their own unique style before being challenged to come up with an image to include in the mural.
“We asked all students to think about what Maidstone means to them, the parts they like best and what matters to them as a young person growing up here. It has been very interesting to see what they came up with.”
The workshops were led by Graham who then combined the students individual design ideas into a single mural. Students were then invited to spend a day on site learning how to recreate their designs using spray paints and helping to create the finished mural on the bridge.
Murals were created between 25 April and 3 May and have all been covered with anti-graffiti coating to ensure they stay looking good for many years to come.
Funding from the national Safer Streets initiative has been used on the project to help involve local young people in brightening up the town.
The project was led by Maidstone Borough Council with Kent Community Rail Partnership gaining support from a variety of partners to help deliver the project. Network Rail (permission to use their wall for the mural), four students from Grow 19 who helped with the whitewash base coat and Castledene Transport who provided additional funding which paid for the anti-graffiti coating.
A collaboration with University College of the Creative Arts in Maidstone led to a striking mural in the booking hall, recalling past and present links of the town with the brewing industry.
In 2008 Kent CRP engaged with the Maidstone Campus of the University of the Creative Arts.
Students designed a mural based on a historical map of the area, adding the course of the Medway Valley Line and historic photographs of its stations.
We are grateful to the Maidstone Museum for their support with the research for this project.
Young learners from Watering Church of England Primary School were engaged during the early stages of our first ever station adoption. They developed a colourful mural placing the railway at the heart of scenes of the village and the surrounding countryside.
When Watering Church of England Primary School heard that the station’s semaphore signals were going to be removed, they offered them a home.
Network Rail were happy to assist in transferring them to become sculptural elements on the school site, preserving a piece of railway history for future generations to enjoy.
In 2008, with support from Kent County Council, the Hop Pickers Line Heritage Group was set up with the aim of reopening the route of the former Paddock Wood to Hawkhurst branch line as a safe walking, wheeling and cycling route between the five villages along its route.
The first information panels were sited at Paddock Wood Station with Southeastern Railway in July, 2017, with further interpretation features following at points along the line.
The Hop Pickers Line Heritage Group continue to work on raising the profile of this historic route in their local communities.
The underpass leading from Tonbridge station to the station car-park has an art installation from Southeast Communities Rail Partnership. Southeast CRP worked with Graham Upton, the artist and young people from the Tonbridge Hub to design and paint a mural depicting the history of Tonbridge station on one wall and on the other side some of Tonbridge’s more well known buildings. The project took a week of hard work but the end result is a bright, colourful addition to this very busy station. The images include the very first station buildings, some past station masters and even the station cat. When you are next in Tonbridge take the time to have a look.
2022 saw Southeast CRP commission a map of the town which was displayed in the waiting room. A wonderful welcome to Tonbridge.