Green light for Flying Scotsman mural to stay

A MURAL of A3 Pacific No. 60103 Flying Scotsman commissioned to celebrate the opening of the Borders Railway has been given planning permission to stay in place.

The Galashiels Flying Scotsman mural. Famous faces added to it include those of TV presenter Lorraine Kelly, rugby players Jim Aitken, Chris Paterson and Gregor Townsend, football player John Collins, painter Anne Redpath and Sir Walter Scott, whose Waverley novels gave the original route its name. SHEILA MASSON/CHRIS RUTTERFORD STUDIO

Local Scottish Borders community organisation Energise Galashiels commissioned artist Chris Rutterford to produce the mural, which also includes around 500 portraits of local people, to fill wall space at the town’s Douglas Bridge, and it was duly unveiled by Lord David Steel of Aikwood – one of the major protesters against the closure of the Waverley Route in 1969 – on October 1 during the Creative Coathanger arts festival.

However, it was erected without planning permission – and a fortnight after it was unveiled, a retrospective application was submitted to Scottish Borders Council.

In January, councillors agreed that the mural could stay. Planning officer Carlos Clarke said: “The mural sits neatly between piers, flush with the wall, with the edging reflecting the colouring of the wall and tying through at its bottom end with the café frontage’s stall riser.

“The image appears to be very high quality and worthy of both distant and close public exposure.”

A third section of the mural is due to be unveiled in the spring.

Chris said: “In late 2015 I had a meeting with Energise Galashiels. Once dominated by a thriving textile industry and the subject of two Robert Burns poems, the group was concerned that Galashiels town centre was becoming bedraggled, and they were resolved to rectify this.

“The opportunity to work with a motivated local group in order to help change the destiny of a town seemed like another exciting artistic adventure.

“We resolved to launch a new Galashiels crowd mural using the impending visit of the iconic Flying Scotsman train both as subject matter and as a launch event.

“I brought my train to town on 12 bespoke 5ft squared canvas boards,
and locals were invited to put their friends and family into the picture for a modest donation.”

Read more News in Issue 225 of Heritage Railway – out now!

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