Monday 27 May 2024

Bobby Moore Bridge advertising lease – the case for the tile mural

 Guest post by Philip Grant in a personal capacity


The Olympic torch tile mural, and the torchbearer about to light the Olympic flame in 1948.


Brent’s Cabinet meeting on Tuesday 28 May will decide on the award of a new advertising lease for the Bobby Moore Bridge, from 31 August 2024 for the next four years. They have two options to choose from, and Council Officers are recommending Option B for approval:-


Extract from the Officer Report for 28 May meeting. (Note that Officers can’t spell Bobby Moore!)


The Officer Report is heavily biased in favour of Option B, but I will have a chance to redress the balance. More than 100 people signed a petition calling on Brent Council and its Cabinet to only award a lease for advertising on the parapets of the bridge (Option A), so that the tile murals on the walls of the Bobby Moore Bridge subway, celebrating Wembley’s sports and entertainment history, can be put back on public display. This means that I can present that petition to the Cabinet meeting, before they consider the award of the advertising lease.


Most of the tile murals on the subway walls have been hidden behind adverts, or LED light panels which can be used for advertising, for more than ten years. They were installed as a public artwork, so it is important that Cabinet members can see pictures of at least some of the mural scenes their decision will affect. 


I asked to include a short powerpoint slide show as part of my presentation, but this was refused. Apparently, it is essential that all the screens show the digital clock, counting down the time remaining, when a member of the public speaking! I was offered the chance to provide my images in advance of the meeting, which I have done. This pdf document has been shared with Cabinet members, and I will ask Martin to attach a copy at the foot of this article, so that you can see it. 


This, for readers’ information, is an outline of what I hope to say during my five minute petition presentation at the Cabinet meeting:-


Today you’ll decide on the new advertising lease for the Bobby Moore Bridge. The petition asks you to award the lease only for the bridge parapets – Option A – so that the tile murals on the subway walls can be put back on display


You’ll see, from the photos in my presentation, why those murals deserve to be seen again, permanently.


Brent commissioned this public artwork, and it was specially designed to welcome visitors, with colourful murals celebrating Wembley’s sports and entertainment history.


There are eleven mural scenes that have been hidden away since 2013, including the Olympic torchbearer and flag at the start of Olympic Way, an important reminder of Wembley’s 1948 Olympic Games.


Other hidden scenes cover a variety of subjects, including famous concerts at the Stadium, and the Horse of the Year Show, ice skating and Harlem Globetrotters at the Arena.


Wembley History Society has been campaigning to have the murals returned to public view since 2018. Its efforts saw the footballers mural, with its plaque unveiled by Bobby Moore’s widow in 1993, uncovered the following year.


We joined the Mayor and Council Leader in welcoming the temporary display of three mural scenes in Olympic Way, at the start of Borough of Culture year in 2020, when the Council acknowledged that ‘the tiles are part of Brent’s rich heritage.’


Quintain put those scenes, just outside the subway, back on permanent display in August 2022.


Option A is the opportunity to allow every resident, and visitor to Wembley Park, to enjoy all of the beautiful murals, as Brent originally intended.


The tile murals don’t have legal protection, but they are a heritage asset, with historic and artistic merit. Brent has a commitment to value heritage assets.


A paragraph from Brent’s 2019 Historic Environment Strategy.


Good lighting in the subway, and the safety of everyone using it, is very important.


When improvements were made to Olympic Way a few years ago, Brent gave £17.8m CIL money towards the work, but allowed Quintain to organise it. 


The lighting design for the subway was based on the LED advertising panels Quintain wanted to install, even though they knew those panels had to be removed when the lease expired.


There will need to be changes when the panels are removed. I’m sure the Council can work with Quintain and its lighting designer on those, though it may mean a short delay in taking down the LED panels, and possibly some extra CIL funding.


But using the advantage of reflected light, off of the ceramic tiles, could actually reduce energy consumption!


[Although I won’t have enough time to include this in my presentation, when Quintain’s Head of Masterplanning and its lighting designer came to a meeting of Wembley History Society in October 2018, to discuss their plans for the Bobby Moore Bridge subway, it was suggested to them that the tile murals could be lit in such a way that the reflected light would help to light the subway itself.]


Second half of the Leader Foreword from the Officer Report for 28 May meeting.

The social value benefits, mentioned in the Leader Foreword, will be provided by the supplier under the new lease, whichever Option you decide on.


A lease under Option A will guarantee the Council a minimum rent in excess of ninety thousand pounds a year.


Option B would pay slightly more, but the amount involved is a tiny part of Brent’s budget.


The financial difference would be less than the cultural, social, educational and heritage value of putting all the tile murals back on public display.


I commend Option A to you, and ask you to vote for it.


I think my presentation makes a strong case for putting all the Bobby Moore Bridge tile murals back on display. Whether this is enough to persuade Cabinet members remains to be seen!


Philip Grant.


The webcast of the Cabinet Meeting can be viewed on Tuesday 10am HERE

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Call out to all urban artiste's (grafitti) please do us a favour and cover up all these rotten adverts hiding our beautiful tiles.