Celebrating local railway heritage

John Cole from Friends of Gordon Hill Station on how the group is commemorating its heritage

Pictured with the new mural at Gordon Hill Station is artist Alex McHallam (left), John Cole (centre) and Alison Yates (right)
Pictured with the new mural at Gordon Hill Station is artist Alex McHallam (left), John Cole (centre) and Alison Yates (right)

It was a dark winter night in February when 40 people were standing watching a 35-minute short film projected, guerrilla style, from the back of a white van, on to Gordon Hill Station.

Train buffs and local families had left their warm homes to watch – alongside unsuspecting commuters – a series of filmed trains flying through the station.

Matthew from Great Northern, the rail company which operates the line and manages the station, was impressed. He challenged the newly-formed Friends of Gordon Hill Station (FOGHS) group to show a “real movie”. Around the same time FOGHS was having discussions with staff at Chase Farm Hospital to work with a group drawn from a unit of a psychiatric patients based at Somerset Villa.

Meanwhile, FOGHS realised mosaics and train stations had become a feature of the Hertford Loop railway line, with installations recently at both Palmers Green and Enfield Chase stations.

The Queen’s platinum jubilee was the catalyst to bring these strands together. FOGHS, with support from Great Northern and The Enfield Society, applied for and received a £10,000 grant from the London Community Foundation via Arts Council England. The only previous experience FOGHS had of seeking grants was for the previously-mentioned short film, which formed part of Enfield Council’s Winter Lights Festival.

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On 25th June, East London arts group Stow Film presented the classic 1952 musical Singin’ in the Rain on a large screen in the car park at Gordon Hill Station. The evening began with Enfield poet Mary Duggan curating several sessions of readings by local poets. The Four Hills Brass Band London, conducted by Martyn Stogden, also performed.

The June event included a sneak-peek of the station’s almost-completed jubilee mosaic, which has since been finished and installed. Mosaic artist Alex McHallam had held eight workshops during April to June, transferring new skills to a group of regular volunteers from Chase Farm, Great Northern and FOGHS.

The mosaic was designed from ideas discussed at these workshops. The final mosaic features two trains from different eras that are associated with the line; a British Railways steam-hauled commuter train and the latest Class 717 electric train. It also features Enfield’s landmark Rendlesham Viaduct, a lavender border representing Lavender Hill, nature, figures watching the train pass and smoke filling the air, buffeting the bunting.

Pupils from St Michael’s Primary School and art teacher Jenny Mayho have helped us celebrate as well, creating a colourful and joyous painted window for the waiting room, home also to a Gordon Hill Station history exhibition.

For more information about Friends of Gordon Hill Station:

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