Supported by Sustrans Scotland's ArtRoots fund, the community of Colinton have transformed a 140m-long traffic-free former railway tunnel along National Cycle Network Route 75 by bringing to life Robert Louis Stevenson's poem "From a Railway Carriage."
From 'wacky idea' to local landmark
It began in 2016 as a self-professed 'slightly wacky idea' by local residents.
Now, the finishing touches have been completed on what is thought to be the UK's longest heritage mural along National Cycle Network Route 75 at the Colinton Tunnel.
Supported by Sustrans Scotland's ArtRoots fund, the Colinton Tunnel Project set out to create an engaging public artwork along the traffic-free path which would reflect the rich history of the local area.
With the help of artist Chris Rutterford, the heritage of the area has been brought to life through a stunning, 140-metre long mural.
And it's based around the words of Robert Louis Stevenson's poem 'From a Railway Carriage.'
Throughout the length of the tunnel, Stevenson’s poem is accompanied by illustrations of local flora and fauna and elements of the community’s history and heritage.
Engaging the local community and celebrating heritage
Mike Scott, the Colinton Tunnel Project Chairman, explains that the team originally set out to:
- bring visitors to the area by active means, helping to re-energise the village centre
- improve the traffic-free greenspace for the benefit of the local community
- increase the confidence of everyone walking, wheeling and cycling in the area.
The project team set out to engage with as many groups within the area as possible.
And they brought top Scottish muralist Chris Rutterford and specialist street artists Craig Robertson and Duncan Peace on board to bring the project to life.
Over 600 local young people at four schools contributed their skills and enthusiasm to the project.
They were joined by young families at the Army’s Welfare Service at Dreghorn Barracks, members of the Pentlands Art Club, Tiphereth’s Peregrines Group, Boroughmuir Rugby Club and Sustrans staff.
Robert Louis Stevenson's local links
Robert Louis Stevenson, author of Treasure Island, Kidnapped and The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde has roots in the area.
Stevenson’s grandfather acted as Minister of Colinton Parish for 30 years, and Robert himself spent many happy days in Colinton as a child.
"From a Railway Carriage" tells the story of a child’s delight at experiencing the sights and sounds of a railway journey from the city to the countryside for the first time. And this provides an immediate link to the former railway tunnel along National Cycle Network Route 75.
Nearly three-fold increase in local walking, wheeling and cycling journeys on National Cycle Network Route 75
Cosmo Blake, Art and Diversity Co-ordinator at Sustrans Scotland said:
“It has been an absolute pleasure to support this project through our ArtRoots programme, which is funded by Transport Scotland.
“We want the National Cycle Network to be valued and loved by all of the communities it serves - supporting groups across Scotland with ideas to shape their areas and empowering them to improve local National Cycle Network routes are cornerstones of this vision.
“The impact of this stunning, community-driven project has already been huge, and we are seeing a significant positive impact on the number of people walking, wheeling and cycling in the area.
“In August 2018, before the community started work on the project, our counters recorded an average of 482 weekend trips along the traffic-free path.
"This has now jumped to an amazing 1421 trips recorded across the same weekend in August 2020.
“Art is incredibly important in making journeys more enjoyable and attractive for everyone.
"And we hope the impact of the Colinton Tunnel project inspires more communities to get in touch with their ideas to improve local National Cycle Network routes.”