Historic Bonnybridge mural reveals that every picture tells a story

The original Smith and Wellstood Foundries of Bonnybridge mural has been reproduced following a public appeal.
The original Smith and Wellstood Foundries of Bonnybridge mural has been reproduced following a public appeal.

A landmark wall painting reflecting more than a century of steelworking history in Bonnybridge has been lovingly recreated following a public appeal.

And a celebration on Sunday marking its revival brought back memories for many in the large crowd which gathered to see the reproduction of the original ‘tromp d’oeil’, commissioned by Smith and Wellstood Foundries in 1981 to mark its 125th anniversary.

I just welled up when I saw the mural. It brought back so many memories of my own time at the Wellstood, and of my father who also worked there.”

Local resident

The painting on the factory wall - at the time the longest external mural in the UK - reflected the workers inside the foundry. The Saltire Award-winning work was destroyed in 1996 to make way for a housing development.

More than £3000 was raised to reproduce the mural, with donations from the public and businesses and support from Greenhill Historical Society.

Stirling printing firm Lasting Impressions was commissioned to reproduce the mural on aluminium panels using photographs supplied by the original artists.

It now takes pride of place stretching more than 30 feet along the external wall of Bonnybridge Community Centre,

Local resident Paul Cortopassi started the campaign after a chance remark on social media was at the celebration event.

Mr Cortopassi said: “We only moved to Bonnybridge in 2000 and I did some research into local history.

“I discovered some photographs of the original mural and was really disappointed that I had not seen the original. The opportunity to revive it seemed too good to miss.”

More than 100 people turned up to the celebration – all with their own story to tell.

“I just welled up when I saw the mural,” said one resident. “It brought back so many memories of my own time at the Wellstood, and of my father who also worked there.”

Other visitors had similar tales to tell.

One of the original artists, Paul Grime, said: “It is amazing to see the reproduction on such a grand scale and it such bright colours. The original was beginning to suffer damage from the smoke of the foundries but this reproduction vividly recalls the original artwork.”

Provost Reid congratulated Mr Cortopassi and presented him with a gift from Falkirk Council.

Phil Swierczek of the Greenhill Historical Society presented him with a card carrying the thanks of the Bonnybridge community.

Another of the original artists, James Mooney, said: “I’m delighted to learn of this project. I was aware that the mural was very much appreciated locally and that there was considerable disquiet when it was demolished.”