Three new benches installed on Rugby's Great Central Way

The design includes nods to the site's industrial heritage

Tuesday, 29th June 2021, 1:33 pm
L-R Volunteers David Sims, Andy Wright and Bob Holloway with one of the new benches.
L-R Volunteers David Sims, Andy Wright and Bob Holloway with one of the new benches.

Three new bespoke benches have been installed as part of Rugby Rotary Club’s award-winning centenary project to upgrade a section of the Great Central Way

Forming the latest part of the Railway Art Heritage Trail, the benches have been funded by The Rugby Group Benevolent Fund and designed by Cawston artist and former Rotarian, Eric Gaskell.

The bench design is in-keeping with the Great Central Way theme, incorporating trains, pedestrians and a cyclist as well as wildlife.

Rugby Rotary Club is working in conjunction with Rugby Borough Council and Warwickshire Wildlife Trust to upgrade the section of the former railway line between Hillmorton Road and Abbey Street.

The project recently received the Rotary Club of Great Britain and Ireland Environmental Award.

The Way ceased use as a goods railway in 1965 and as a passenger railway in 1969, with the Rugby Central Station being demolished shortly after.

Without the resources to manage it along its full length, the council handed over the lease to Warwickshire Wildlife Trust which now maintains the section south of Hillmorton Road.

But they don’t have the resources to manage the northern section.

Plans also include interpretation boards, to be designed by local blacksmiths, in a style echoing the traditional British Rail signs and explaining the history of the Great Central Way.

Rugby Rotarian and GCW project leader Laurence Wilbraham, said: “The installation of these benches is the second part of the Art Trail on the Great Central Way following the installation of the rail track last year.

“They reflect the past and present use of the line, the train going into the night (the past) and walkers, cyclists, trees and wildlife emerging into the daylight (the present).

"The Rotary Club of Rugby is delighted with these benches which I am sure will be of great benefit to users of the Way.”

Rugby Rotary Club is now more than halfway through its four-year project to enhance the southern section of the Great Central Way, including the removal of undergrowth and trees, improving the Sun Street Play Area, creating a wild play area, providing signage and, subject to community involvement, the provision of a community garden/orchard.

The first phase of the Art Trail, laying nearly 200ft of track, is now complete thanks to the donation of rails and sleepers by Network Rail – and the work of Rotary and WWT volunteers, as well as members of the public.

Laurence added: “To mark our centenary, Rugby Rotary Club members wanted to do something that would raise both the profile of the club and of Rotary, would provide long term benefits for the people of Rugby and involve volunteering and young people as well as doing something environmental.

“This is the largest and longest project we’ve ever been involved in and so far the feedback we’ve been getting from everyone who uses the Way is extremely positive.”

John Brooks, trustee of the Rugby Group Benevolent Fund said: “We were delighted to support this project with a donation of £5,900 for the provision of these excellent benches which will provide enjoyment to the local community.

“This community has a rich industrious past of which employees of the Rugby Group and their families played their part.

Hopefully the benches, and indeed the project, will last for many years and provide a fitting reminder of our past, present and future lives and work.”

For further information about the Great Central Way project, Rugby Rotary Club or to volunteer, visit: www.rotary-ribi.org/clubs/page.php?PgID=801977&ClubID=382