Sunday 1 January 2023

An Olympic Games tile mural – let’s get it back on permanent display!

 Guest post by local Historian Philip Grant in a personal capacity


On 1 January 2022 I shared with you an open letter that I’d sent to Quintain’s Chief Executive Officer, seeking his agreement that his company would not seek to renew its advertisement consent, covering the tile murals on the walls of Olympic Way. I thought I’d made a good case, and was very pleased to receive a positive response two months later.


The sports tile murals on the east wall of Olympic Way, back on display in August 2022.


As well as uncovering the American Football, Rugby League and Ice Hockey tile mural scenes in 2022, Quintain’s Wembley Park company also commissioned a new mural. This replaced the missing section of the former “Live Aid” mural, beside the drummer which was the only section left of the original 1993 design. Since it was completed last November, Paul Marks’s “Reverb” mural has been added to the Wembley Park Art Trail.


The ”Reverb” tile mural, nearing completion in November 2022.


Regular readers will know that Wembley History Society has been campaigning since April 2018 to get Quintain and Brent Council to put all of the Bobby Moore Bridge tile murals, celebrating Wembley’s sports and entertainment heritage, back on permanent public display. Our first success was the mural scene in the subway, showing England footballers playing at the “twin towers” Wembley Stadium, which was left uncovered when Quintain (with Brent Council’s consent) replaced their vinyl advertising sheets in the subway with LED light panels.


The “Footballers” mural, flanked by LED light panels.


Now, 2023 provides an opportunity to get another of the subway’s mural scenes back on display. As well as marking the centenary of the original Wembley Stadium, the year will also be the 75th anniversary of the 1948 London Olympic Games, for which Olympic Way was built. I hope that it will also see the mural celebrating those Games uncovered, in recognition of that important part of Wembley’s sporting heritage.


The Olympic Torch tile mural, beside a photograph from the 1948 Games opening ceremony.


So, this New Year I’ve sent another open letter to Quintain’s Chief Executive Officer, James Saunders. This is its full text:


This is an open letter

1 January 2023

Dear Mr Saunders, 


The 1948 Olympic Torch tile mural at Bobby Moore Bridge, Wembley Park.


Happy New Year! 2022 was a good year for Olympic Way, and I am hoping that, with your support, 2023 can be even better.


Following my 1 January 2022 letter to you, and your reply of 2 March, it was good to see the three sporting tile mural scenes on the east wall of Olympic Way back on permanent display from August 2022. They have been appreciated and enjoyed by residents and visitors ever since. More recently, the “Reverb” mural by Paul Marks, on the opposite wall beside the original drummer, has brightened up that space, although I must admit to some disappointment that it could not have related more closely with the “Live Aid” stadium concert theme.


During 2022, I have continued to work with Quintain’s Wembley Park team on projects to promote the history of Olympic Way. There are several additions to enhance the sharing of that history with visitors nearing completion, but I am writing to suggest another one.


In April 2023 we will celebrate the centenary of the original Wembley Stadium, and in July 2023 the 75th anniversary of the 1948 London Olympic Games, for which Olympic Way was built. One of the tile murals in the Bobby Moore Bridge subway, the first scene on the left as you come down the steps from the station, was designed to celebrate that heritage at the start of the famous route to the stadium:-


This mural, which depicts an Olympic torch relay runner on his way to the stadium for the opening ceremony of the 1948 Games, with the Olympic flag behind him, is currently hidden behind LED light panels. My suggestion is that this mural scene should be uncovered, and put on display for the 75th anniversary in July 2023 (and hopefully, permanently). 


The Olympic Torch mural is next to the “footballers” mural scene, which is already on display, so that it should not be too difficult to extend the lighting “frame” around that scene to include this mural celebrating the 1948 Olympic Games at Wembley Park, once the three or four light panels covering it, and their supports, have been removed.


I will email a digital copy of this letter to members of your team at Wembley Park, who I am already in touch with over other local history enhancements for Olympic Way. 


I look forward to hearing from you that displaying the Olympic Games mural scene will be another addition to those enhancements by the summer of 2023. Thank you.


Yours sincerely,

Philip Grant.


Philip Grant said...

Wembley Matters re-tweeted the following message from "Wembley Archive" (I thought at first from the logo that it was from Wembley Stadium, but unfortunately it wasn't!), in response to Martin's tweet about my blog above:

'Replying to @WembleyMatters @QuintainLtd and 3 others
the murals would be great as part of a #heritage trail around #wembleypark. Still lots of links to #wembley #History in the immediate area.'

I couldn't agree more!

The murals were put there in 1993 (paid for jointly by Brent Council, the Department for Transport, the Football Trust and Wembley Stadium) to celebrate Wembley Park's sports and entertainment heritage.

There are still plenty more tile mural scenes to uncover in the Bobby Moore Bridge subway, even after the Olympic torch mural that I'm seeking to get uncovered here.

2023 is just another step towards getting them all put back on permanent public display. The big test of Brent Council's (and Quintain's) commitment to this important part of Wembley Park's heritage will come in 2024.

I look forward to the support of everyone who wants this fantastic public artwork fully on display again, for residents and visitors to enjoy, when that campaign kicks off.

Anonymous said...

That reverb mural is terrible. Why could they not commission something that matched or at least have content? May as well just tile it blank and save money

Philip Grant said...

I've received a reply from Quintain to my New Year letter.

I will share that with you soon, along with my response to it!