THE transformation of a key Morpeth alleyway has been completed with the installation of more eye-catching artwork.
Residents and shop owners in the town had been calling for drastic improvements to be made to the Old Nag’s Head Yard thoroughfare next to T&G Allan for many years and the cause was taken up by the Morpeth and District Chamber of Trade two years ago.
It set aside some funding and an extra £10,000 was provided from the small schemes allowances of local county councillors Andrew Tebbutt and David Moore.
The project has been completed in stages, with works carried out to install new lighting, clean the pavement, paint the T&G Allan woodwork and put up a detailed map of Newgate Street, whilst the ceiling has been plastered, boarded and painted.
Ivan Webley was commissioned to provide seven murals for the blank wall and his main piece — a painting of shops and buildings from Newgate Street in the first half of the 20th century — was put on display last summer.
Now the remaining six have been installed. They include scenes of Carlisle Park, Bridge Street, High Stanners, the river and a hilltop view of the town centre.
“I’ve spent 30 years painting in Morpeth so I had a good idea of the paintings I wanted to do for the alleyway,” said Mr Webley.
“As well as the main parts of the town, I’ve included views that the average visitor probably won’t see such as looking out from the Skinnery footbridge.
“These works have helped to brighten up the alleyway and they will be an interesting discussion piece for people when they walk through.”
Businesses in Newgate Street had said the corridor to Back Riggs was putting people off visiting their shops because it was dark and uninviting.
Chamber Chairman John Beynon said: “Other organisations were trying to get this project off the ground for about ten years so we’re delighted that we stuck at it and managed to get somewhere.
“These works have transformed the alleyway as it used to be a dark and dismal place.
The main reason why we did it was to encourage people to go through to Newgate Street and that’s why the map is such an important feature as it shows the diverse range of great independent shops that are available.
“We deliberately coincided this launch with the end of the roadworks as we wanted to mark the return to two-way traffic with something very positive for Morpeth.”
Dropped kerbs have also been installed at the Back Riggs entrance to the alleyway.
Coun Tebbutt said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to bits that the Old Nag’s Head Yard works have been completed.
“They have completely changed for the better a part of Morpeth that was previously dull and uninteresting.”