Romsey 'R' Unveiling

This 'Unveiling of the Romsey R' public art project follows on from last year's public art project in Cambridge which Historyworks delivered between the Spring of 2016 to December 2017, when we invited choirs from local schools and community choirs to come together to perform new pieces for voice which we then performed at the Mill Road Winter Fair.  What was great about developing the project into the 'unveiling' project in 2018,  is that we worked closely with the poet Michael Rosen, and figured out a fantastic community celebration with the artists of the Romsey R, Will Hill and Harry Gray, which was enormously successful in the communty because we embedded the project into the schools, with entire schools leaning the songs and poetry, and having their input into the commissioning of songs about 1845, the Eagle Engine, the Parker's Piece Feast of 1838, and the new Bath House!

On the Mill Road Winter Fair day, our Cambridge Mayor and Lady Mayoress, were in pride of place at the front of a packed community concert at St Philip's Church.  All the songs were about the history of the Railways and the development of the Mill Road area in Victorian era, with Helen Weinstein, showing old photos and maps to go with each song.  The stage area was packed with over two hundred enthusiastic young singers, and all the shops in the area along Mill Road were ready to participated too with the procession, showcasing the posters about the project in their front windows and coming out to cheer on the singers. We then processed with about five hundred participants from the concert venue at St Philip's Church along Mill Road up to the corner of Cavendish Road for the unveiling.  This would only have been possible on a Mill Road Fair Day when there was no traffic and it was safe for a singing procession to 'take over' Mill Road.  Helen Weinstein had worked hard to liaise with the Mill Road Winter Fair commitee and the busking community, so that we had an easy passage up Mill Road.

On reaching the Romsey R sculpture, there was a huge red bow, and the PA system from Historyworks was in place ready for speeches from Ann Smith, the Cllr for Romsey and Exec Cllr for Communities who has been so involved in the development of the project.  For the children, the highlight was singing as the Mayor and Cllr Smith undid the huge red bow.  We then heard speeches from the artists, Harry Gray and Will Hill, before one last song.  It was great that crowds of people were coming to see the Romsey R all day long, to chat with the artists, to talk to Helen Weinstien about the railway history of the area and the composing of the songs and poems for this special project.

Very sadly, our lovely Mayor, Nigel Gawthrope, died unexpectedly in January 2019, just a few weeks after this fantastic community event, and it is fitting that the lasting memory for those in Cambridge is of Nigel hugely enjoying leading the procession and undoing the Romsey R ribbon to unveil the sculpture, because he was so very committed to supporting community events, and many families have wonderful photos and memories of his gleeful participation and support of Historyworks for this important concert and unveiling event.



Romsey 'R' Unveiling


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