Underpass given artistic new makeover

Monday, 6th July 2015

AN underpass which is a vital part of the link between Tamworth town centre and Ventura Retail Park has been transformed into an eye-catching and artistic showcase for the heritage and history of Tamworth.

The Ladybridge underpass runs from the Jolly Sailor car park at the far end of the Castle Grounds through to Ventura Retail Park.

The underpass has been transformed as part of the ongoing Gateways Project. Artist Vic Brown, working with Tamworth Borough Council’s Arts & Events team, created a number of designs based on borough history – including Colin Grazier, Sir Robert Peel, Tamworth Castle, swans, a Reliant Robin and a Tamworth pig.

Then last weekend, as part of the Urban Arts Festival, Vic led a team of artists in spray painting the designs onto the walls of the underpass. An anti-graffiti coating was then applied so that the new artwork cannot be defaced.

Further design works are now in the pipeline to make the underpass even more attractive, including painting the ceiling, new lighting and the installation of a new path with a light-reflective surface.

The revamping of the underpass is part of the wider Gateways Project, which aims to improve the physical links between the town centre, Ventura Park and the railway station, making the routes more attractive and increasing the number of pedestrians and cyclists using them. They have been carried out through a partnership between Tamworth Borough Council and Staffordshire County Council.

The first phase of the project to enhance the historic Ladybridge began in March this year and is almost complete. The works on Ladybridge include:

  • Replacement of the pavement and roadway with a level surface, to be shared by pedestrians and cyclists
  • Extension of the York stone paving stones from the Castle entrance, along the whole length of Ladybridge
  • Application of a golden gravel surfacing to complement the flag stones
  • Installation of new bollards

A sculpted timeline celebrating Tamworth’s heritage and history is yet to be installed on the bridge, and gaps where the six flagstones will be placed have been temporarily filled with tarmac. This is temporary measure which will be removed once the timeline is ready to be installed.

The six flagstones will be hand-carved using mallet and chisel in the traditional Saxon style with images and text celebrating six of the most notable events in Tamworth’s history. Tamworth Castle is currently asking visitors to fill in a questionnaire suggesting the six historical events they would like to see depicted on the timeline.

Heritage lighting columns and waymarkers will also be installed along Ladybridge, with all this work expected to be complete in the next three to four months.

Cllr Steve Claymore, Cabinet member for Economy & Education, said: “The Gateways Project is a crucial part of our long-term, ongoing work to improve and regenerate Tamworth town centre. The underpass is a vital part of the pedestrian and cycle route between the town centre and Ventura Park and these new artworks make it look much more attractive.

“I hope that this bright new look will encourage more walkers and cyclists to use this route.”