Viaduct Way – a Winchester story told by Winchester people
Press Release: 11/07/2014
The Viaduct Way was formally ‘christened’ last Thursday (10 July) when 40 invited guests walked its length from the Hockley Viaduct to City Bridge in Winchester. They were able to view for the first time the complete collection of sculptures and information panels which now define the route.
Hampshire artist Nicola Henshaw, who was commissioned by Winchester City Council last year, led the walk which ended with a strawberry cream tea at Abbey House hosted by the Mayor of Winchester, Cllr Eileen Berry. Nicola explained how the project had taken shape, drawing on the memories, the images and the words of local people of all ages. Groups involved in the project included two primary schools at either end of the route - All Saints, Highcliffe, and All Saints, Compton - Age UK, Winchester Area Tourist Guides Association and the Friends of Hockley Viaduct.
Nicola carved out of oak a series of three interpretation panels which explore themes inspired by the Hockley Viaduct: the railway, the city, flora and fauna, and cycling. A further, three-dimensional sculpture can be found in the Hockley Link – which offers the best views of the Viaduct – telling the story of this much-loved structure.
There are also three-dimensional way-markers, reflecting the shape of the railway token which a steam railway driver had to have or see in order to enter a stretch of single-track safely. The first of these can be found at the pedestrian exit from the South Park and Ride, and the others range along the route into the city centre, again carved to reflect the themes of the Viaduct.
Nicola also made a large, semi-circular bench carved to look like a steam train running along the track, and this is positioned in a shady spot by the foot of the Hockley Bridleway Bridge to provide a welcome resting spot for walkers. The design is based on shadow puppets made during a workshop with pupils at Highcliffe All Saints Primary School last summer.
Two more benches are tucked into the recesses of the Viaduct, and they carry some lines of poetry by Becky Withyman, produced during a story-gathering workshop with Nicola on the Viaduct at the start of the project. Becky was then at All Saints Primary in Compton, but now attends Kings’ School in Winchester. Becky’s lines – about the dandelion seed-heads floating over the Viaduct – also inspired Nicola to paint more than 100 dandelions on the track bed.
Cllr Berry said:
As an artist myself I really appreciate the quality and beauty of these sculptures. I am happy to see how many people Nicola has involved in her work, and to know that many more will be able to share the Viaduct’s story over the years to come as a result of these sculptures. I would like to congratulate everyone who has played a part in the project.
Walkers and cyclists can find out more about the sculptures in a new leaflet about Viaduct Way which has recently been produced by Winchester City Council. It is available free from the Tourist Information Centre or can be downloaded from www.visitwinchester.co.uk/viaduct-way#tabs2
The signage and interpretation scheme for Viaduct Way was funded largely through Hampshire County Council’s Sustainable Transport Fund, with contributions from The Friends of Hockley Viaduct and the Environment Agency.