Manor Royal project transforms “scary” subway

22 June 2015

A subway in the Manor Royal Business District has been given a new lease of life thanks to the skills and imagination of local people and artists.

Earlier this year Manor Royal BID secured funding from West Sussex County Council and Crawley Borough Council to improve the subway at Woolborough Lane, a busy entrance to the Business District for cyclists and pedestrians. This enabled the BID to commission   local artists Ginger Moo Ltd to create a vibrant mural and wholly original piece of art depicting life in the area.

Creative workshops were held in April and May with Manor Royal businesses, pupils from Gatwick School, and the nearby Northgate community before the artists finished their work on the themes of history, landscape, transport and engineering.

Manor Royal BID’s executive director Steve Sawyer, Rachel Cowell from Ginger Moo, and Barry Thayre, from community group Northgate Matters, were joined by the leader of Crawley Borough Council, Peter Lamb, to view the completed work on Thursday (June 18).

Mr Sawyer said Manor Royal BID had identified the need to improve the entrance to the business district after speaking to nearby businesses and their staff. “Before we were able to undertake these improvements, the subway was in a poor state of repair,” he said.  “I’m delighted with the outcome and the way we have successfully worked with businesses, local residents and both Councils to complete the project. Now the work is complete, we plan to mark the work with a plaque and create a formal entrance through to Manor Royal Business District.”

He added: “The subway upgrade, which will also include improving drainage and bollards, is just one of a number of projects being delivered by the Manor Royal BID and its partners to improve the perception of Manor Royal as a place to work and do business.”

Leader of Crawley Borough Council, Cllr Peter Lamb, said: “Manor Royal has seen a number of improvements in recent years and particularly since it became a business improvement district; it’s only right that well-used entrances do a good job of reflecting the success of the area. Better still, this project has included some great creativity and community involvement which all helps to instil a sense of pride. It looks great!”

Mrs Cowell, Ginger Moo’s managing director, said the artists working on the project received a number of positive responses from residents and business people who use the subway on a daily basis.

“The feedback showed that there was a real need to improve this entrance to Manor Royal,” she said. “One Northgate family, in particular, said their children always referred to it as a ‘scary tunnel’ but now feel it’s a much nicer place to walk through.”

Mr Thayre, who has used the subway for a decade to walk from his home in Northgate to work at Varian Medical Systems, was delighted with the improvements.

“For too long this was a rather dismal and forgotten structure, even though it is a well-used and regular thoroughfare for many folk,” the treasurer for the Northgate Matters community group explained. “I was very pleased to see that this project gave local people an opportunity to contribute their sketches, ideas and suggestions at the creative workshops.”

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