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Herne Hill underpass to be transformed in September

Local school children will transform Herne Hill station’s dark underpass into a colourful mural in September, writes Clara Gaspar…

Around 1,500 local primary kids from Herne Hill have volunteered to help beat the Guinness World Record for the most contributions to a colour by numbers painting, and are aiming to complete this mammoth task on a single day.

Previous record holders, ‘Sam’s Club’ from America, achieved 455 participants so the organisers, Herne Hill Forum, are confident that with the help of the primary school children they will successfully beat the world record.  

Herne Hill Forum has commissioned local artist Victor Szepessy to create a design for the 40 metre long mural, which will celebrate the area’s culture and history.

Szepessy told the News:I asked the Herne Hillians what they wanted in their mural and they’ve been telling me or tweeting me their ideas, from the Carnegie library, to the old cinema grand, Brockwell Hall, chicken shops, bats, foxes and Olley’s fish and chips.

“I also used all the books published by Herne Hill Society to research and include important landmarks and notable people.”

He was inspired to make the project a community project as he was working on the Brockwell Passage mural.

“As I was painting the outline on the wall”, he explained, “local kids started running up and asking if they could colour in, so I gave them brushes and paint and we ended up making it together.

“It was a very dynamic process and after it was finished we saw kids going by with their parents, pointing and saying ‘I made that.’ I hope that creating a nice space together as a community will give the kids and everyone involved a sense of connection to and pride in their area. And that we can experience what we’re capable of when we all work together in divided times.”

Children from seven schools in Herne Hill; Jessop, Michael Tippett, Herne Hill School, St Jude’s, Turney, Rosendale and Judith Kerr, have been asked to lend their help with the project. They aim to colour the mural with paint pens in one day.

The organisers said, “Everyone is welcome to get stuck in and help complete the world record from 4pm to!  Adults and children accompanied with an adult from across Herne Hill should meet at the station to register.”

The transformation of the underpass is being led by Herne Hill Forum with funding, resources and support from Aviva, Southeastern, Network Rail, Lambeth Council and local businesses, and will take place on Wednesday 12th September in Station Square, Herne Hill.  

Lucy Reynolds, Project Manager of Herne Hill Forum explained, “The idea behind the world record attempt was to give the children of Herne Hill a day they will remember for the rest of their lives, whilst creating a beautiful space right at the heart of the Herne Hill community. The mural was inspired by local residents who wanted to have a focal point where they can understand the history of where they live.”

The renovation of the underpass marks the beginning of a wider regeneration programme in Herne Hill, which Herne Hill forum intend to culminate in the regeneration of the space above the station. As it stands, the room above the station inaccessible, but the Forum is working with South Eastern to plan potential uses for the space as a community hub.

Renovations have already begun in the station, with Southeastern investing in new strip lighting, removing anti-graffiti panelling, and repainting. New display boards will be installed, allowing the local community to display artwork, exhibitions and local information.

Lucy Reynolds said, “The space above the station is huge, with beautiful views across Herne Hill. Our vision is to turn this forgotten place into a vibrant forum for events, activities and entrepreneurship, harnessing the demand for a new civic space right at the heart of our community. We would love to hear people’s ideas for how we might use this space.”

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