This month saw the finishing of the Blacon Greenway and Old Station project that was funded by the Community Spaces programme. Facilitator David Hammond describes the transformation of the old Station site.
The final piece was quite literally laid this month in a regeneration project that has turned a grot spot into a gateway that is bringing pride to the local community.
A railway line used to connect Blacon to the nearby city of Chester and Connah’s Quay on the Welsh coast. The railway closed decades ago, leaving behind the site of the old station. This sat neglected and unloved for years, a haven for weeds, litter and anti social behaviour.
The coming of a Sustrans cycle route brought the railway route back into use, but it has taken the dedication of volunteers from Blacon Community Trust and £85k of money from WREN and Community Spaces to transform the site. Stephen Perry deserves a special mention as the tireless volunteer project manager whose efforts have inspired hundreds of local people to get involved in the project.
The site has been themed around its railway heritage, with signs, fencing and benches that echo the age of steam. Access improvements, planting and chainsaw sculptures mean that everyone can now find something to enjoy in the peace and quiet of the Old Station site, just two minutes from the heart of Blacon.
Most of the work was finished last December and was celebrated with a Christmas event complete with mince pies, Santa and snow. But the centrepiece of the site was unveiled this month: a colourful mosaic containing 1,500 individual tiles!
One thousand tiles were handmade by children at the five nearby primary schools, along with local community groups. On Saturday 10 July, to coincide with the Blacon Festival, some of the children who had helped create the mosaic revealed it to an expectant crowd which included the Lord Mayor, Cllr Neil Ritchie.
The amazing mosaic is four metres across. It brings together 120 years of history, with one half representing a train wheel and the other a bicycle wheel. These bring together the past and present, linking the railway with the national cycle route that now runs through the site.
As a Community Spaces facilitator, all of the projects that I am involved with are special. It is always a privilege to work with people who are so passionate about transforming their local areas. This project stands out because of the almost obsessive detail and sheer effort that has gone into making a unique piece of artwork.