Three Bs brighten town eyesore in time for In Bloom judging

A derelict Stanley eyesore has been transformed into a colourful centrepiece for the summer.

Stanley Town Council has transformed the derelict former Stanley Board School into one of the main attractions of this year’s Northumbria in Bloom submission, thanks to artistic schoolchildren from the town.

The project saw youngsters from St Joseph’s Primary School, draw inspiration from this year’s academic theme of “Birds, Bees and Butterflies” to design 29 new “windows” for the school, featuring brightly coloured animals, flowers and summer scenes.

The project was organised by Stanley Neighbourhood Warden, Dave Jarvis, who had originally planned it for last year, only to be scuppered by the pandemic lockdown.

He said: “People in the town, quite understandably, are tired of the derelict building at the bottom of the Front Street, and when Northumbria in Bloom judges visited the town in 2019, our submission was marked down due to the state of the building.

“So, we decided that we would address it last summer and I approached the building’s owners with the plan to brighten the place up and they agreed to let us carry out the project. Sadly, we had to delay the project when COVID struck in 2020, but as soon as the schools were back, we set about using the youngsters’ imagination and artistic talents to create a project to turn this eyesore into something that brightens up the area.

“The “windows” have been placed over metal security boards and will stay in place throughout the summer. People have reacted really positively to them and we had loads of passers-by coming across to tell us how great they were as we put them in place – we’re really pleased with how well the project has worked out.”

As well as people in Stanley, the colourful displays also seem to have found favour with In Bloom judges, who commented on how much they improved the building, deemed a blight on past judging visits.

“So much effort goes into making the town a pleasant place to be, it’s nice to get so many positive comments,” added Dave. “The great thing is, we will keep the artwork once the building is finally earmarked for development, so they will go on display at the school or elsewhere in the town.

“I’d like to thank all of the youngsters and staff at St Joseph’s who have helped drive this project forward and created such eye-catching, amazing work.”

The project was made possible thanks to support from Stanley Town Council and Durham County Council.

Town Council Leader, James Kane, said: “The Council has really pushed the boat out this year to make the town and surrounding areas look good for summer. After the past 18 months we have all endured, it was important to us to make sure people were greeted with colour and flowers when they come into Stanley.

“Dave has done an incredible job overseeing this project and the schoolchildren’s work is absolutely fantastic – a big well done to everyone involved.”