It’s a rail education. A perfect pictorial portrayal of Portadown’s past as ‘The Crewe of Ireland’.
Make tracks, dear reader, down to Watson Street (aka Railway Street to the more mature citizens of Portadown) and learn about the proud days of steam – the days when railway branch lines radiated to virtually every point of the compass from the town.
And as you approach the bottom of the street, you’ll have to blink your eyes, thinking they deceive you - that the magnificent old station had risen from the mists of time.
It is, in fact (see picture), a magnificent mural appended to the Watson Street gates – 36 feet by 12 feet – that portrays that Portadown was indeed the fulcrum of train travel. We had lines that lead to Belfast, Dublin, Armagh, Dungannon, Enniskillen, Portrush, Derry, Cavan and all points north, south, east and west.
And as you make your way towards the mighty mural, feast your eyes on smaller murals – showing the interior of the station, with its four platforms, its restaurant, waiting room and all requirements. There are also murals of the old signal box, men toiling on the lines, the historic turn-table at Edgarstown, washing sheds, old posters – a superb portrayal on how it used to be.
And a plethora of pictures of hissing old steam trains will fire the enthusiast.
The permanent street exhibition was the brainchild of current ABC Council Lord Mayor Darryn Causby, with the backing of the Edenderry Community Development Association, all dedicated to that legendary area of the town.
Councillor Causby said, “The funds were granted from Craigavon Borough Council during my time there, and it ties in with the improvements of nearby Hoy’s Meadow. This is, in fact, an outdoor museum of the steam days.
“The demolishing of that iconic station to make way for Northway was an act of official, extreme vandalism. It simply wouldn’t have happened nowadays, but railways were not given the respect they deserved – how we’d love to have that station and network now.
“We are deeply proud of the way in which these murals have improved the whole vista at Edenderry and invite everyone to take a drive or walk down Watson Street and view the end result. It’s truly inspiring.
“We collected the murals from old train records and from the Ulster Museum. But the main benefit is that this is in the open street – for all to see for free, and wonder at the sight of the great era of rail travel.”