An exciting plan to develop a “Conversational Place”, an art-themed community garden on unused land by Town Green station on the Merseyrail network has been awarded £15,000 by the Arts Council.
Year 5 pupils at Aughton St Michael’s CE Primary School came up with the idea when they did a walk around the village looking for a scheme to help improve the local area as an Archie Bishop project. This is run by the Archbishop of York and is similar to the Duke of Edinburgh Award, but is aimed at younger children.
Children saw the land by Town Green train station where people had dropped litter and daubed graffiti and felt this would be the ideal place.
The school then approached Merseyrail and asked whether it would be possible to use the land for such a scheme. Following consultation with Network Rail, the rail operator gave the green light for the project.
To secure the success of the initiative, Aughton St Michael’s will tap into the talent and expertise of West Lancashire Borough Council Arts Development Service, professional artists, as well as Merseyrail and Network Rail.
Merseytravel and the Council will support it, and St Michael’s Parish Church, Pavillion Pre-School, Springfield Court Nursing Home and Dimples Childminding Group are also involved.
The Council Arts Development Services put the funding application together and have supported the school in the planning of the overall project. Local people will be given the opportunity to learn more about the scheme in the near future.
Councillor David Sudworth, portfolio holder for Leisure, said: “This will be a great project that will improve the environment and turn unused land into something really special for local people.
“We are delighted to be able to help with the successful grant application and really pleased that so many community groups are involved as well as the school. We hope people will take part in the consultation and give their ideas so this land becomes something everyone will enjoy.”
Professional artists Jack Doyle and Caroline Baker will work with the school and local community groups identified to create designs for the project, providing those participating with a high quality experience. The aim is to create a high quality scheme of work that will have a really positive impact on the area. The school hopes to take on the long-term maintenance of the area once it is completed.
Chris Clare, Aughton St Michael’s CE Primary School deputy head teacher, said: “We are extremely proud that, with the support of the Council and Mersey Rail, the Year 5 children's project for developing the site around Town Green Station has been successful.”
Emma Stone, Year 5 teacher at the school, said: “We are looking forward to all our children working with high quality artists to develop their skills, knowledge and techniques as well as working with the local community to improve our environment."
Maarten Spaargaren, managing director of Merseyrail, added: “This is just the kind of project that we love being involved in. It’s another way of getting closer to the communities our network serves and it’s great to see children being so enthusiastic about their own local area.”