RAILWAY workers past and present are lighting up a dark underpass as part of artwork unveiled yesterday.
Ten workers are pictured in the green metal light sculptures, which are in the Great Western underpass between the Railway Village and Swindon Designer Outlet The £150,000 project has taken 18 months to complete.
Ian Piper, chief executive of Forward Swindon, said: “This is an important thoroughfare for people. It links the town centre with the heritage area and people wanted it to be improved.
“We thought about how we could do that and commissioned Bruce Williams, who is a local artist. We thought bringing art into the tunnel would bring life and interest into it.
“We first started talking about it 18 months ago and Bruce came up with the designs. He has done a great job, it really draws interest to the tunnel.”
The work was paid for through money from central government and Forward Swindon’s budget.
Bruce used seven photographs from the Steam museum archives, along with three images of people working in the industry today.
He said: “The characters you can see would probably have used the route under the tracks themselves on their way to and from work.
“These are regular men and women, who worked on the trains in war and in peace time, come rain or shine. There are riveters, train drivers and look-out people.
“On the opposite walls in gleaming letters read the words Swindon Works, which is the name of the site but could also read as a hopeful slogan for the future.
“I’m glad we have been able to breathe new life into the GWR Underpass.
“It is now a bright and safe, and dare I say it, beautiful pedestrian route through the town which reflects the historic and contemporary achievement of the railway industry in Swindon.”
Bruce has previously been commissioned for other public art around Swindon, including at Nova Hreod College.
Coun Garry Perkins, cabinet member for regeneration and culture, said: “This is the main link between the town centre and the outlet village and this is one way of bringing it together.
“It was dark and uninviting, but the additional light will make people want to come through here.
“This is very much part of Swindon’s heritage. This is a fantastic way of maintaining the history of Swindon.”
Members of the project team who have helped to make improvements to the tunnel, including redecoration and lighting, and representatives from local interest groups were also at the unveiling.
Work to improve lighting in the Hawksworth underpass has been completed too.