Network Rail backs mural in Vauxhall celebrating a historic record at the most famous pleasure garden of the 19th Century: VX1-Vauxhall mural

Tuesday 7 Jul 2020

Network Rail backs mural in Vauxhall celebrating a historic record at the most famous pleasure garden of the 19th Century

Region & Route:
Southern: Wessex
| Southern

Historic railway bridges have been transformed into stunning pieces of art thanks to Network Rail’s unique partnership with community groups, schools, and artists.

The bridge structure on the corner of New Spring Gardens Walk in Vauxhall now pays homage to a balloon record that stood between 1836-1914. Charles Green, a professional balloonist who had made 200 ascents at the time, flew 480 miles from Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens to Nassau, Germany in the balloon Royal Vauxhall.  

This historic voyage took place at the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens which was in its day, one of the most famous pleasure gardens in 19th century London; combining music, drinking, socialising and spectacular entertainments, like a combination of a modern nightclub and theme park.  

The mural was painted by Nerone, a celebrated street artist and walls bearing his work can be seen in many places including Paris, New York, Bangkok and Marrakech.

Throughout his career, he has been commissioned to work for different artistic events around the world, such as the International Flowers Festival in Seoul, the FIA Formula E Championship in Berlin, and the Flower Show Turkey in Istanbul.

Nerone said:

"I've really enjoyed working in Vauxhall and it has been a great experience despite the difficult weather conditions. Many people were curious to discover the new addition in the neighbourhood and congratulated me while I was painting.

“Compliments are always appreciated and I'm getting ready to paint more art in this amazing borough."

Almost all relics from this golden age are now sadly gone, however its history, achievements and the amazing characters it produced is something community groups such as Vauxhall One are very keen to promote.

Bernard Collier, chief executive at Vauxhall One said:

“People have been coming to Vauxhall to have fun since 1661. The mural celebrates Charles Green's Balloon rides of the 1800s, but also Vauxhall's culture of fun and embracing of difference. Vauxhall One is supporting this culture as the area develops and changes.“

Robert Hodgkinson, franchise & access manager at Network Rail said:

"I am delighted we have finally created this fantastic mural in Vauxhall that represents both the historical accomplishments of the past, and the diverse, multi-cultural heartbeat, now so warmly felt in the area.

"The design, artistic talent and endeavour that has gone into making this artwork such a poignant but celebratory creation, establishes a standard for future murals and artwork still to come.

“I would like to thank Vauxhall One and colleagues at Network Rail, for their help in making this such a great success.”

Notes to Editors

Vauxhall Gardens opened to visitors in 1661 under the name ‘New Spring Gardens’. Before Westminster Bridge was built, it could only be reached by sailing up the Thames. As London became more built up in the 17th and 18th centuries, Londoners began to need open spaces to relax in.

The most famous were Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens and the people who went to the gardens were the highest in society, including members of the royal family. They went to be entertained and to escape from the noise and pollution of the city.

As well as providing an opportunity to parade the latest styles, Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens provided ‘fresh air’. Breathing fresh air and taking gentle exercise were thought to help keep people well while entertainment included lion-tamers, troupes of acrobats, jugglers and fire walkers.

Although aimed at a new middle class, the wealthy and the aristocratic - the gardens welcomed everyone - providing you could pay the entry.

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Leonard Bennett

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