The London Road subway near the fire station has been transformed into an art gallery to tie in with National Clean Air Day. It is part of a county council led programme to make walking more attractive, in partnership with East Herts Council and local arts organisations.
The subway walls have been decorated to create a more attractive pedestrian link while celebrating the town and local community. The displays on the subway walls are a mix of permanent reproductions of works by the famous British artist Alan Davie RA from the Hertford Arts Hub, and work provided by artists from the Hertford Art Society.
Tim Hutchings, Cabinet Member for Public Health at Hertfordshire County Council, said: “Improving the subways in Hertford is part of a wider programme to encourage active travel and reduce car use across the county. Walking and cycling have so many benefits to both physical and mental health. If everyone walks and cycles a little more it will have a big impact on air quality, and therefore on everyone’s health. That’s why improving walking routes like these is so important to us.”
This is the last in a series of subways within Hertford to be improved, led by Hertfordshire County Council with support from East Herts District Council, providing a more appealing walking network for all to use. Walking more and leaving the car at home especially for those shorter local journeys helps to reduce CO2 emissions and congestion and improve air quality.
Graham McAndrew, East Herts Council’s executive member for environmental sustainability, said: “There are some intriguing works of art along the subway and they make it a pleasure to walk through it. It’s a good reason to leave the car at home and take a walk along a traffic-free route benefitting our own health and making a small contribution to better air quality and reduced carbon emissions in our town.”
Bob Deering, the Mayor of Hertford said: “I’m so glad we’ve been able to renovate Hertford’s subways, the London Road subway being the latest. They are an important link from one side of the town to the other and facilitate walking and therefore our clean air initiatives and well-being. When you throw in the opportunity to showcase local art as well this has been a terrific programme of improvement.”
As well as marking National Clean Air day, this project also forms part of the Hertfordshire Year of Culture 2020 and the 100-year anniversary of the artist Alan Davie. There will be art competitions in future years to provide new and exciting art to generate continual interest and give an opportunity for different art to be displayed – keeping the design on the walls vibrant.
Claire Robinson on behalf of Hertford Arts Hub said: “We are delighted to be part of this project to enhance the walking environment for the public in Hertford. People travelling by foot will now be able to discover more of Alan Davie’s wildly adventurous artwork. The images selected for this subway highlight his energetic flow of creativity and we hope will provoke intrigue in subway users and be a highlight of the journey to their destination. Alan Davie’s original artworks are on show in our main gallery (unfortunately temporarily closed at this present time due to the Covid-19 pandemic).”
Geoff Bennett, from the Hertford Art Society, said: “‘The Hertford Art Society is delighted to contribute to the town’s environment with pictures in the London Road underpass. We encourage anyone interested in creative arts by providing Talks, Painting and Drawing sessions, Workshops and Exhibitions, all held in the United Reform Church Hall, Hertford.”
There are five subways under the A414 through Hertford. The London Road subway is the last of the five to be refurbished.
Improving subways supports the county council’s Local Transport Plan policies to encourage sustainable transport.
The St Andrews Street and London Road subways refurbished in 2020 have been funded through a combination of developer contributions from the Aldi store and the Government Defra Air Quality Grant Scheme, aimed at improving local air quality standards.
Local interested residents will be asked if they would like to join the Friends of Hertford Subways voluntary group to create a community spirit and a sense of ownership. The group will be able to report minor damage and undertake some light cleaning work.
National Clean Air Day is important to promote not only the importance of cleaner air for all, but the ways in which we can all work towards this individually and as businesses, schools and communities. Go to www.cleanairday.org.uk for more on how you can play a part in this, and help to make every day a clean air day.