Published 21st June 2021

A subway that was the target of anti-social behaviour, criminal damage and graffiti in Bewsey and Whitecross has been revamped.

The issue was highlighted in 1000 surveys sent to residents who shared concerns over the safety of people using the subway, especially at night.

The subway was threatened with closure, which would have made the lives of all residents a misery.

Pupils from Sacred Heart, Evelyn Street and St Barnabas primary schools ran a competition to pick a theme for the mural. It was then beautifully created by Birmingham based graffiti artist Joe Miles.  

One pupil in particular from Sacred Heart was inspired by his time spent in Sankey Valley during lockdown. The boy, along with his family, would litter pick and clear areas of mud and debris.

The children at the schools all contributed to the idea of the mural. It is seen as a ‘walk in Sankey Valley’ creation with animals, flowers and other sights they see when they visit the local area. This includes historic buildings such as Bewsey Hall, transporter bridge and the ‘Pink Eye’ roundabout.

The mural took around two weeks to be completed by Warrington Borough Council, which included cleaning the subway and applying it with an anti-graffiti coating that can last up to 20 years.

The artwork in the subway, located on Wellfield Street, was unveiled on Friday 18 June with Police and Crime Commissioner John Dwyer, Inspector Ruth Atherton, local councillors, school representatives and local volunteers in attendance.

The children from the schools will now take on the role of ‘mini police’ by checking the subway every day. They will be supported by the police and a local voluntary group ‘trolley angels’ who will assist in removing any litter or graffiti to nip any issues in the bud.

The subway was created as part of the government’s Safer Streets Fund. A £550,000 grant was secured by the Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire and was set up to prevent crimes in certain areas.

Inspector Ruth Atherton, who leads on the safer streets project for Warrington Local Policing Unit, said: “This was a really special project because it came from the heart of the community.

“Residents in Bewsey and Whitecross told us there was a need for more youth and community provision and we have listened to them.

“The idea for a mural in the subway came from a schoolboy and what a brilliant idea it was. The children will now take ownership of keeping it tidy and reporting any concerns to us, they are clearly proud of what has been achieved.

“It has been a joy to work on this initiative, to really make positive changes to the area and to see the smiles on resident’s faces.”

During a visit to see the benefits of the project, Police and Crime Commissioner John Dwyer, said: “I am delighted that the government funded this really important project for Bewsey and Whitecross from its Safer Streets fund.

“The work carried out has made a huge difference in improving community safety in the area. It’s also really brought the community together to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour and make the area a more pleasant place to live.

“It was fantastic to see so much community cohesion on my recent visit and I hope this continues.”

Warrington Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for leisure and community, Cllr Tony Higgins, said: “This wonderful project has brought the whole community together, to revitalise an area which had previously been a real eyesore. The creation of this mural has made the subway brighter, more attractive and welcoming for local people, which is great news. It’s a fantastic example of the difference people can make to their local area by working together.

“I’m particularly delighted that local children have been so heavily involved in this project - from choosing the design of the mural, to taking ownership of the upkeep of the subway, now and in the future. They are a real credit to the community and should be very proud of their efforts.

“The Safer Streets programme is something that supports our Central 6 Masterplan, which will bring improvements to Warrington’s inner wards. It’s great to see the work of Central 6 continuing to develop and bring benefits to our communities.”