Mural — Bridging communities in St Neots

In 2019 Love’s Farm resident Eleanor Gray was on her regular commute home when she spotted an announcement for the Passenger Benefit Fund. The programme, created and funded by Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) covered 274 stations across the south of England. It asked for project proposals from communities across these stations. The community association in Love’s Farm were keen to support the proposal for funding under the title bridging communities, with the train station bridge as its centrepiece.

“Across our network, we’re making our stations more attractive, comfortable and sustainable. As part of a multimillion-pound improvement programme, we’ve commissioned local artists, community groups and schools to liven up thirty stations with unique works of art inspired by their local area. By working with local partners such as the Love’s Farm Community Association, our stations can become valuable assets for the areas and people they serve. The creator of this wonderful mural at St Neots, Carli Pfurtscheller, is a great example of the hugely talented, hard-working artists we’ve had the privilege to work with.”

Tom Moran, Managing Director for Great Northern and Thameslink

The proposal was for a community mural measuring 47 metres (155 feet) that would span the inside of the walkway of the bridge that crosses the railway. St Neots and the new community of Love’s Farm are separated by the bridge and the creation of a mural looked to bridge and connect the communities and welcome visitors to the town.

Love’s Farm is a 160-acre site to the east of the railway station in St Neots, Cambridgeshire. The development comprises over 1,400 homes, a primary school, shops, open space and community facilities. The first homes were occupied in 2009, with the main part of the site completed in 2017.

Each area in St Neots has its local parish sign, which is a feature across the county, and on the Love’s Farm side the emerging community lacks signage. This project sought to change this and provide a way to welcome visitors to the town and show the diversity and vibrancy of our communities and bridge this gap with St Neots.

“This has been a fantastic collaboration between GTR, Neotists and Love’s Farm Community Association with the aim of bridging the communities across the railway line. We are thrilled with Carli’s work, which showcases the landmarks of St Neots in a wonderful way, providing a vibrant welcome to the station and the growing community for visitors and residents alike.”

Marcus Pickering, Chair, Love’s Farm Community Association

Neotists were selected as the creative community organisation to take the project forward plan the design and commission an illustrator.

Neotists is a community of creative professionals in the St Neots area. Founded in 2015 with a vision to bring designers, artists, illustrators and photographers together to kick-start a dormant creative community in St Neots.

Neotists selected a talented local illustrator, Carli Pfurtscheller, who has produced murals of the same quality and size before. Working closely with Carli, we began looking at ways to visualise the idea of the community using local landmarks. We developed a shortlist of the iconic buildings and structures, parks and gardens, reserves and waterways, ensuring we didn’t exclude any features from the parishes that make up St Neots.

From that shortlist, Carli could begin illustrating, which was a huge undertaking considering the size of the mural and the amount of time needed to draw each unique element. In total Carli spent over 110 hours producing the artwork and had this to say about the process.

“I feel privileged to have been chosen to work on this project. It’s been a challenge given the size and shape of the mural, but I’m really happy with the results. I’ve tried to include as many recognisable landmarks and buildings, old and new, as I could. There should be something in the mural that everyone who lives in the area can relate to. There’s a bit of artistic license when it comes to colours as I wanted to make it really vibrant and bright. I hope I’ve done the town justice in the illustration.”

Carli Pfurtscheller, illustrator

Once the illustration was complete, local sign company Ensign, were able to print and install the artwork over the bridge. We are delighted to see the work in place and it looks even better than we imagined.

Each day the footbridge is used by residents and visitors from Love’s Farm, as well as the residents of St Neots, either catching a train or getting to school. We hope that they will be able to spot something new each time they visit the station crossing.

If you visit yourself we suggest you look out for features from each of the parishes that make up St Neots — Eaton Socon, Eaton Ford, Eynesbury, Little Paxton, Love’s Farm and Wintringham.