Network Rail backs mural in Purley with an historic pear tree: Purley mural with Lionel Stanhope and Catherine Garrad

Tuesday 14 Jul 2020

Network Rail backs mural in Purley with an historic pear tree

Region & Route:
| Southern: Sussex

Network Rail has teamed up with street artist Lionel Stanhope and Purley Business Improvement District for a mural honouring the Anglo-Saxon heritage of the area.

The railway on Godstone Road in Purley now displays a mural with the iconic pear tree relating to the rich history of the town which was originally farmland.

Purley gets its name from the Anglo-Saxon word “Pirige“ meaning pear tree and the word “Leah” meaning woodland clearing. The towns name means “A woodland clearing where pear trees grow” which was altered and recorded at the start of the twelfth century as “Pirlee”.

The town became a much sought after place to live once the railway made quick access possible and many houses were built during the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century.

This mural was painted by Lionel Stanhope who most recently showcased work in Dulwich, Eltham and for Millwall Football Club.

Lionel Stanhope said:

“I’m really happy with this mural and the pear tree is a nice touch which reflects the Ango-Saxon roots of the town. I hope the locals appreciate it – I received positive comments from people passing by when I was working on it.”

Catherine Garrad, engagement manager at Purley Business Improvement District said:

“We are really proud of the art that Lionel Stanhope has created and the ties of Purley with the railway. Even more impressive is that Purley still has the remains of the original Surrey Iron Railway dating back to 1802.”

Eddie Burton, community engagement manager at Network Rail said:

“The wall in Purley looks great and I’m glad we could highlight the wonderful heritage of the town. We own bridges and other structures across the South East and not only do these murals make them much nicer to look at, but they also encourage people to respect and look after them.

“We’re always open to creative ways in making our bridges look better and more welcoming for the neighbourhood.”

Over the years, Purley has significantly changed but this addition of the superb new artwork and the reinstatement of the pear tree is a reflection on the history of the area.

Notes to Editors

The Surrey Iron Railway (SIR) was a horse-drawn plateway that linked Wandsworth and Croydon via Mitcham. It was established by Act of Parliament in 1801 and opened partly in 1802 and 1803.

It was a toll railway on which carriers used horse traction and goods transported were coal, building materials, lime, manure, corn and seeds.

The nine-mile route followed the shallow valley of the River Wandle, then heavily industrialised with numerous factories and mills, from the River Thames at Wandsworth southwards to Croydon, at what is now Reeves Corner. A short branch ran from Mitcham to Hackbridge and Carshalton.

The railway was extended by a separate company as the Croydon, Merstham and Godstone Railway through Purley and Coulsdon to quarries near Merstham, opened in 1805 and closed in 1838.

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Leonard Bennett

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