Students and residents in South Ayrshire are on their way to starting a project which would see a run-down and graffitied railway tunnel in Alloway transformed into the area’s next tourist attraction.
What started out as just a small project to clean-up the Alloway Tunnel located next to the historical Brig o’ Doon, has now got some major traction after Ayrshire college injected some funding to kickstart it’s transformation.
Taking its inspiration from a similar project in Edinburgh’s Colinton tunnel, the Alloway tunnel project will see distressing graffiti removed from the walls and replaced with murals which celebrate the area’s historical figures such as renowned poet Rabbie Burns.
The project founders are also hoping to install drainage systems which would stop water from above staining and damaging the walls once completed.
Local resident Ron Ireland is the man who kick-started the project. He’s been telling West FM that the tunnel has been run down for too long.
He said: “When I first moved here around 7-years ago, I was extremely disappointed when I seen the distressing state of this tunnel with the offensive graffiti and the stained walls.
“By chance I’d read in the press about the Colinton tunnel which has murals based on the poet Robert Louis Stevenson, and I thought if they can do it so can we with another world-famous poet from around this area, Robert Burns.
“Hundreds of people walk or cycle through this tunnel every day, whether they’re going somewhere, or out for leisurely walk, or coming down to see the stunning view of the Brig o’ Doon.
“Unfortunately, in the evenings there is an element of anti-social behaviour with the offensive graffiti on the walls, and it can also be quite a threatening place to ordinary people enjoying the walkway and the beautiful views.”
Both Ron and his colleague William McKinlay were the first to get the project moving and are hoping with a bit of extra funding it can become a reality.
With an estimated cost of £150,000 to complete the tunnel’s transformation, they need to secure a significant amount of extra funding.
However, with Ayrshire College’s initial financial help to get the project moving to prepare and clean the tunnel, they have also put forward students from different courses to personally work on the project.
Business and IT students were heavily involved in creating a website and social media channels to help get the plans some attention online. They have also helped with creating surveys and engaged with the local community to gauge the appetite for the project, which they residents have responded with great positivity.
Art student Milo Bell worked alongside Chris Rutterford, the mural artist who designed the Colinton Tunnel, to create the website’s official logo.
Further down the line more students will be helping Chris with mural designs for the Alloway Tunnel.
Head of Arts and Humanities at Ayrshire College’s Ayr campus, Colin Ross says it’s a fantastic opportunity for students to get real life experience.
He told West FM: “That was one of the big lures that attracted Ayrshire College and the foundation to this project, was the fact that there were so many opportunities to get students from a variety of backgrounds involved.
“It’s two-fold for the students. A lot of them are actually from the local area so it’s a chance for them to show their work to their family and friends.
“Giving the students the opportunity to go out and do real life experience, taking what they’ve learned in the classroom setting and putting it on show for the world is ideal for everyone.
“Obviously with us coming out of Covid, those opportunities were greatly reduced for students, so having this project and the chance for them to build their skills by working with contracters, mural artists is great for them.
Ron also believes having so many local students and residents involved in the project, it might help preserve the area in the future.
He said: “If the community buys into it, then they will be keen to look after it, and our hopes are for this to become a tourist attraction in its own right, attracting more people to visit and more people to use the path.
Ron and his team are now setting up a trust and the Scottish charity regulator (OSCR) are currently reviewing their application for official trust status.
With the hopes of the application being returned successfully in the next 2-3 months, the Alloway Tunnel Project can begin applying for official funding.
Visit the link below to read the full interview: