Harrogate residents saddened as 'beautiful' mural on Bilton bridge defaced by vandals

Residents in Bilton say they have been left disappointed after a mural on the Iron Bridge was vandalised - but they won't let the negativity win.

Thursday, 22nd April 2021, 4:50 pm

The bridge, which crosses over to Claro Road, was painted last week by artist Emma Garness, who was commissioned by owners Network Rail.

In a bid to spread some positivity after such a difficult year and build on the community spirit of the area, she asked local schools to contribute ideas which included a fox and an oak tree, as well as painting the cherry blossom on the Stray.

The Iron Bridge in Bilton has been painted with a beautiful mural. Picture: Sarah Cantlow.

Locals have been raving about the 'beautiful' mural on Facebook, saying it brightens up their day when they walk past and is a welcome boost for Bilton

One resident, Jacqui Kendall, wrote: "An amazing artist. She gave up her time to bring happiness to the Bilton bridge and people around Bilton. What an amazing and very talented artist she is. Everybody that was walking past the bridge was very smiley and happy to see the bridge so colourful."

But it hasn't taken long for the mural to be targeted by vandals, who carved a heart and the letter 'K' into it just days after it was completed.

Sarah Cantlow was walking past the bridge when she noticed the damage and decided to upload a picture of it to the Bilton Community Group on Facebook, where residents were quick to express their disappointment.

The Iron Bridge in Bilton has been painted with a beautiful mural. Picture: Sarah Cantlow.

One commented: "This so sad when people are trying to make it look a better place, so disheartening for the artist."

Another added: "That didn’t take long to deface at all. Such a shame."

Sarah, who lives close to the Iron Bridge, has been walking past and checking the mural regularly and noticed the damage yesterday, Wednesday.

The damage on the mural on the Iron Bridge in Bilton. Picture: Sarah Cantlow.

She, along with some of the other residents in the Facebook group, is now calling for more CCTV in the area to deter anyone looking to cause more damage.

She told the Harrogate Advertiser: "First I knew about it was when I saw the artist Emma on Saturday - she is so lovely. On Sunday afternoon my daughter and I watched her paint most of the afternoon and my daughter got lots of tips from her. She was so caring and happy to talk. While we where chatting it was so nice to hear loads of people saying how beautiful it is, and how it brightens the bridge up, but how sad it will be as we knew it would not take long to be vandalised. I feel that we should have CCTV cameras on the bridge."

Other locals have backed the calls, with one commenting: "The bridge needs a camera this is disgusting."

But resident Siobhan Mckenna, who walked past the mural this morning, Thursday, said she could not notice the damage.

The Iron Bridge in Bilton has been painted with a beautiful mural. Picture: Sarah Cantlow.

She says the vandals will not win and will not take away from the positivity the image brings and the hope it spreads across the area.

Siobhan added: "With all the negativity that is happening around Bilton these past few months, this beautiful painting brings a smile to the people young and old that walk past it. Unfortunately some miscreant has already defaced it, but the beauty outshines the ugliness."

The Iron Bridge in Bilton has been painted with a beautiful mural. Picture: Sarah Cantlow.