Via Ravenna Underpass Mural Restoration

Via Ravenna mural, North side with Chichester Cathedral Via Ravenna mural North side with the Festival Theatre

Older city residents still remember the days when cows used to graze right up to the city walls.

All that changed, however, nearly 30 years ago in the 1980s when someone followed the “wisdom” of the time and ran a road through Westgate Fields.

The road, in its turn, required an underpass in order to keep the pedestrian link which connects, notably, Chichester College and the railway station and sees hundreds of students each day, not to mention all those Waitrose shoppers too.

And if an underpass is to be attractive, it needs to be more than a concrete tunnel. So a competition was launched to design a set of murals. This was rather fittingly won by a Chichester College student, Victor Hang, whose vision was completed in early 1987.

Nearly thirty years on, the underpass was very much showing its age. So in 2012 we started working to get the pass spruced up again, hopefully in time to form part of the Society’s own 40th anniversary celebrations in 2013.

Via Ravenna mural South side with marine views

The first essential was to commission a survey, and the Society was fortunate to obtain the services of Katey Corder, a conservator of international standing specialising in murals and walls paintings. Her report informed the Society’s bid to West Sussex County Council for a grant to fund the works. The County accepted our proposals and awarded the grant. We then appointed Mark Lewis and his team at Art and Soul Traders whose colourful murals are illustrated here.

As it turned out, the project overshot our target by a year, but painting work did finish in mid July 2014, and on 30 July 2014 we had a small gathering to celebrate the completion of the work. We were particularly pleased to be joined by Clare Smith and Debbie Burford, landscape architects who had been very active in helping progress the original project all those years ago.

Wall plaque