Tony STALLARD, Ghost Train (2009). Bushey Arches, Watford Junction (England)

Tony STALLARD, Ghost Train (2009). Bushey Arches, Watford Junction (England)
Bushey Arches is a major rail, road and pedestrian transport interchange used by millions of people annually. The project site was an area under a Grade II listed brick railway viaduct designed in 1834 by the English civil engineer Robert Stephenson. The site was in a poor condition due to years of neglect and pollution from trains, motor vehicles and pigeons. The road beneath the viaduct is heavily congested with around 7,500 vehicles per hour passing round the site at peak times and the west coast main line running above. The congestion and resulting pollution and noise made the area unattractive and unpleasant for local residents and anyone passing through.
The area underneath the railway arch, comprising of approximately 500m2 was designated by Watford Borough Council to be 'improved with public art'. The impetus for the improvements came from residents who contacted the council to complain about the eyesore the Arches had become. Watford's Green Heart Partnership Team of officers from Watford Borough Council, Hertfordshire Highways and Hertfordshire Constabulary came together to build upon this, working with the Perception AREA creative team to turn Bushey Arches into a visually interesting space that celebrates the heritage of the site as a key transport interchange.
The initial stage of the project captured the perceptions of the community about the Bushey Arches and environmental issues. GHP appointed film-maker Rayna Nadeem to work in the area around Bushey Arches throughout May and June 2006, engaging with people who live, work and pass through the area. Rayna's DVD 'Underneath the Arches' was used to inform the project team about the next stage: to regenerate the site into a high impact visual gateway that will positively engage communities with their environment.
Inspired and informed by the public engagement documentation, the GHP team then selected established public artist Tony Stallard to bring change to the site through a lighting installation and hard and soft landscaping. The team also worked with external consultants including landscape architect Noel Kingsbury, to find solutions to planting and maintenance of soft landscaping on this problematic site
Taking into consideration all the complexities of the site, artist Tony Stallard worked with the team to develop a lighting scheme to illuminate the archway with a colourful, slowly changing light installation, using low maintenance, energy efficient LED lights.

This project has regenerated a busy, polluted area into a gateway feature and progresses Watford's ambitions to be a 'greener' more sustainable town by raising awareness of heritage and important environmental issues amongst residents and to reflect in a playful manner the heritage of Stephenson's bridge and his engineering works for this Victorian gateway into London to allow an iconic contemporary landmark.