Mural painted by school children brightens up Grand Union Canal tunnel outside Northampton

School children have been brightening up the canal tunnel under the Northampton M1 service station by painting a beautiful mural on the walls.

Friday, 14th June 2019, 5:40 pm
Rothersthorpe Primary School's mural in the canal tunnel. Photo: Nicola Fountain

Rothersthorpe Primary School was invited by the Inland Waterways Association (IWA) Northampton and Canal and River Trust to rejuvenate the canal tunnel after being put forward by one of the pupils.

Blisworth Art Group drew the outlines and the year five and six pupils spent three days this week painting the mural, called Nature through the Seasons.

School staff and parent volunteers also gave their time to help out while the wet weather did not deter the pupils from carrying on and giving their best to the project.

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The pupils had lots of fun painting the mural, and each other! Photo: Nicola Fountain

Head teacher Nicola Fountain said the result is impressive and will brighten up visitors’ days as they walk or run past, as well as providing people on canal boats an improved view of the area.

“We are very proud of our children. They really impressed us with their focus, resilience and community spirit," she said.

"Thank you to everyone who helped make this project a success."

Maggie Turton from Blisworth Art and Craft Group said it was a pleasure for members to be invited to help children design and paint a mural depicting 'nature' when art subjects in schools have been seriously reduced.

Busy painting the mural. Photo: Nicola Fountain

"The bad weather experienced over the three days of painting did not dampen spirits and I’m sure the children’s rendering of all things bright and beautiful will put a smile on the faces of boaters and walkers as they travel under the motorway bridge," she added.

Last year, Delapre Primary School participated in the same project in collaboration with Lemon Pop Workshops, which covered up graffiti and their 60m mural of a historical timeline of Northampton can be seen from the towpath.

IWA Northampton branch secretary Sandie Morton said: “This latest mural is part two of our work with primary schools and artists from the local community to improve the look of the underside of the M1 motorway bridge.

"It began with us removing graffiti and has grown from there into a wonderful artistic display.

Two of the pupils covered in paint. Photo: Nicola Fountain

"Both this year and last year, we were overwhelmed by the children's enthusiasm for their work and the end result is a wonderful reflection of this.”

The mural project has been largely funded by local company, Cummins Power Systems, which actively supports the Northampton Arm by regularly sending corporate volunteers to IWA work parties.

Other expenses were covered by a legacy from a longstanding IWA Northampton branch member, John Faulkner.

This mural is the fourth installation in IWA Northampton Branch’s Art on the Arm initiative: a mural where the Arm leaves the Grand Union Canal at Gayton Junction, a mosaic bench at the end of the Arm in Northampton and a mosaic nature trail linking these two areas with panels at each of the 17 locks.

The mosaic trail includes clues which make up a phrase as part of a Nature Trail Challenge.

Sandie added: “All of these artistic installations have been designed and planned to attract more visitors to enjoy the special environment of the Northampton Arm for leisure and recreation whether it be by boat, bicycle or on foot.”