A colourful makeover has transformed three bus shelters and created a useful information point for exploring Haslemere and the stunning surrounding countryside.
The community has rallied round to bring a new lease of life to the shelters, which are located just outside Haslemere Railway Station.
The new-look shelters now feature key information about the town and wider landscape. Maps and vibrant photography are designed to highlight Haslemere as a gateway to the South Downs National Park and Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
Amazing photography of local wildlife, including the sand lizard and Darford Warbler, is featured on the new interpretation panels, intended to inspire visitors to explore further and experience some of the natural wonders the local landscape has to offer.
Walkers stepping off the train will be able to choose to explore two different trails. The National Park’s Serpent Trail – a 65-mile-long route that starts in Haslemere and weaves its way through reptile-rich heathlands to Petersfield – or the Greensand Way – running for 57 miles through Surrey before winding down to Kent, and linking to the North Downs Way.
The work has been a collaboration between Haslemere Community Station, the South Downs National Park Authority, Surrey Hills AONB, the Community Rail Network and Heathlands Reunited. Funding also came from Shottermill Great War Memorial Trust and South Western Railways.
Unveiling the new shelters, Simon Dear, Mayor of Haslemere, said: “I think the bus shelters are great.
“This project establishes a continuing relationship with the South Downs National Park and the public transport systems in the town. It’s also a statement of civic pride in the area. We had a pretty rundown conventional bus shelter before and because of the effort and enthusiasm of the people involved in this project we now have something much more substantial, attractive and informative.”
Ken Griffiths, Acting Chairman of Haslemere Community Station, said: “This is a fantastic 36ft-long mural that really stands out. It not only promotes the town, but also the countryside around us.”
Allison Thorpe, who leads access in the South Downs National Park, said: “This project really has transformed these bus shelters and created a new focal point that can act as a stepping stone for a day-out in Haslemere and the surrounding countryside. The town is a key gateway for the National Park and I hope people enjoy exploring what the area has to offer.”
Rob Fairbanks, Surrey Hills AONB Board Director, said: “This transformation of the bus shelter enables us to highlight the fantastic public transport services we have in the area to link our beautiful landscapes for all to enjoy them in a sustainable way. Haslemere is a gateway to two long distance routes, the Greensand Way which takes you across the Surrey Hills into Kent and the Serpent Trail in the South Downs National Park. By showcasing these routes through the eye-catching bus shelter visuals we hope to raise awareness and understanding of our nationally protected landscapes and the wonderful opportunities on offer for recreation, health and wellbeing”.
Local artist Sue Fisher, a member of Haslemere Arts Society, painted the watercolours of iconic buildings for the Haslemere maps. She said: “It was quite a challenge to paint all these lovely historic buildings. My favourites were, The Town House, a beautiful Georgian mansion Grade-II listed building with a blue plaque commemorating Edward Whymper, who climbed the Matterhorn in 1865, and almost opposite Haslemere Museum, where Haslemere Art Society hold their annual exhibition. It’s been a pleasure to have been asked to do the artwork and thrilled to see it now in its place in the bus shelter.”
Thanks also to Bert England, who created maps of the town.