Redecorating Forest Hill Subway [2020]

Personally I like the subway clean and easy to disinfect. Many thanks to those who take the trouble to clean it. I do think graffiti breeds graffiti. And who can set themselves in judgment to decide what’s “good” and what’s “bad” graffiti? There’s very little that I’ve seen that’s not repetitive or derivative. (Ducks now.) If we have to have any then I’d say hoardings are fair game, as they’re (hopefully) not there long and if keeps people from tagging brickwork etc then I won’t object as long as it’s privately funded and cleaned.

Edit: AK8’s post about the Herne Hill children’s work appeared while I was writing my post. I do feel differently about little children’s work (though not on brickwork! - it should still be removable.) And I think it would have been much better if the Herne Hill children had got to design it too.


@Andy you only need to look at the response to the graffiti artists on the temporary boards by the old coop to see the effect. I’d be happy for them to take the same designs and apply to the underpass. Wether it’s paint, mosiac or spray paint makes no difference. We’re talking about commissioned artists not 15yr olds with a spray can.

To make this happen we need to find out who to ask to get permission. Is it the council?

I think this could be TFL owned

I found an old article from 2012 on the reburbishment of the station underpass on the Forest Hill Society website including a letter that was sent to our then MP in which it stated

Network Rail own the right of way, but share responsibilities for maintenance with Lewisham Council.


I’m not a particular fan of this idea. The white panels bounce light into the underpass. When at their cleanest the underpass positively shines.

This leaves the brick work at the Dartmouth end bit. I suppose a mural could be painted there, but I often find murals become quickly dated and faded. And while some might enjoy a giant child’s painting, other (like myself) might find them naive and lacking in merit. Why should we have to suffer bad art?

I’m sure a graffiti/urban artist could be found but it might take much more than a few pots of paint. And if a graffiti/urban artist if commissioned they should be expected to be paid for their work. But to me the beauty of this type of art is its transient nature. That it is often replenished by other artists, and sometimes even augmented. The work currently on old Coop hoardings is a great example. They’re not permanent, some might change (banana) and other might give way to new works.


Actually I know of a lot of very talented artists who will paint something amazing for just the cost of the paint and be happy to do so.
Personally I find the white boarding to be rather depressing so there’s going to be a large range of feelings on the matter.


So I suppose the council would be a good place to start. Anyone know someone we could approach ?

Maybe we’d prefer to point our attention to the busy portacabin train station and it’s frontage rather than decorating the tunnel. Just a thought, like.


I would rather it stayed light and bright as it is. Instead how about addressing the unsightly bins on the WH Smith side. Some more art around there would help too.


I see the comments about not wanting to make the underpass darker or somehow vandalised, but I don’t think adding some art or identity to that space is synonymous with it becoming somehow dimly lit or subject to graffiti.

All that’s needed is something light, simple or subtle to make the underpass less unremarkable. The already cited example shows how this could be done with a geometric design, though I think Forest Hill should aim higher :slight_smile:

The outstanding indented and standout idents @Lionel has drawn under various railway bridges have also survived very well and not attracted more graffiti or vandalism. I don’t think that should be any more of an issue than current maintenance of the area.

So I would welcome some sort of character being added to that underpass, but would ideally like to see a short list of possible designs and public vote to select what might finally be painted.

Of course organising this all on a small budget may prove tricky…


I understand the thinking behind this idea but the underpass which is seen by some people each day does not look bad right now. However around the station/WH Smith area does need attention and is seen by many more people each day. I feel there could be more dramatic results in those areas.

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Improving the underpass is a separate issue to improving the area around the station, and perhaps a simpler issue too. Unless they are competing for funds (which hasn’t been suggested), doing one shouldn’t hold back the other - so ideally do both!

From our man in Network Rail:

I like the idea and I also think it would be nice if it could incorporate a homage to the women who sadly died, whose shrine in the passage keeps being removed (she was homeless and sorry, I can’t remember her name).

I think the shrine was already discussed at the time and it was decided to let family and friends place flowers etc but not to erect a permanent shrine.

I think a poll is in order!

  • Leave the subway as-is
  • Allow street artists free rein to redecorate
  • Allow street art but with community-approved conditions (design / colours / lightness?)
  • Don’t mind
  • Other (please comment)

0 voters

Regarding a memorial for Stefania

  • There should be a memorial for Stefania
  • No memorial for Stefania
  • Don’t mind
  • Other (please comment)

0 voters

Ah makes sense, just annoying how it all gets removed…

I don’t think a memorial should be up for a vote. Please remember that this is an underpass used by the whole FH community (not just people active on this forum) and everyone did not approve of the temporary shrine that was created or the longevity of it.


If you could get a representative sample of opinions from those who don’t use this forum that would be very interesting to see, as ideally we’d want to consider the views of both groups of people.

I wonder how and why their opinions might differ from those of forum users on this subject?

BTW I agree that a memorial to Stefania is inappropriate

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