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Catch The Speeding Train on the Hauraki Rail Trail

05 February 2018

A sculpture of a bright red speeding steam locomotive will be installed along the Thames-Kopu section of the Hauraki Rail Trail thanks in part to funding from the Thames Community Board.

The Speeding Train

(Photo: Kopu to Thames Rail Trail Sculpture Design Competition winner The Speeding Train by Raglan artist Stuart Shepherd (centre). Left-right: Competition judge Joe Bleakley, competition originator Rob Johnston, Thames Community Board Chair Diane Connors and Thames Public Art Trust Chair Paul Silvester)

The Speeding Train, by Raglan artist Stuart Shepherd, was the category one winner in the sculpture design competition, organised by the Thames Public Art Trust.

A $15,000 grant from the Thames Community Board and a pledge of $15,000 from Grahame Christian, Managing Director of Smart Environmental, our Council's rubbish and recycling and parks maintenance contractor, will help pay for the making and installation of The Speeding Train.

The sculpture will be 3m high, 4m long and 1.5m wide and either sit on a plinth or on the "speed rods" that extend from the back of the stylised locomotive. The intention is to locate the sculpture on the Rail Trail so it can be seen from the Kopu Bridge, luring cyclists to investigate. The exact site is yet to be determined.

Over time, the idea is to place more sculptures along the Rail Trail to serve as "visual breadcrumbs" to draw cyclists along.

"This is a very exciting project," says Thames Community Board Chair Diane Connors. "It's a very good fit for the Thames Promotion Project, which is to make Thames into more of a visitor destination by making the most of the assets like the Rail Trail. That's why it received backing from the Board's Local Economic Development Grant fund," Ms Connors says.

"It's about making the most of our community and helping people realise there's more here that's worth visiting and coming back to for repeat visits," she says.

This year's funding round for the Thames and Coromandel-Colville Community Board Local Economic Development Grants is open now until the end of February.

The grants are for projects with strong linkages to providing tourism and visitor attraction outcomes that will help boost economic development in the two Community Board areas.

Projects involving walkways/cycleways are a particular focus that is welcomed in grant applications.

The funding can be used as "seed money" to support applications to external funders for local projects.

See for criteria and how to apply.

"Weave your way to Thames"

Weave your way to Thames

(People's choice award winner "Weave your way to Thames' by Julie Crimmins-Crocker (2nd from right) with (from left) Thames Public Arts Trust Chair Paul Silvester, competition originator Rob Johnston, competition judge Joe Bleakley and Thames Community Board Chair Diane Connors)

The category two winner was The Jandal, by Ricks Terstappen.

Category one was for standalone works and category two was for utilitarian pieces that could be used as a rest stop, bench or shelter.

Models of The Speeding Train and the other category winners are on display in the lobby of our Council's main building in Thames at 515 Mackay St.

Project originator, Thames architect Rob Johnston, said the range of the 48 competition entries was impressive.

"There were enough good works to fill the Trail straight away; however, funding doesn't go that far yet," says Mr Johnston.

"We now therefore have a number of highly commended works that we can also work at getting additional funding for."

The judging was done by Joe Bleakley, QSM. He has a considerable resume of design and art production work including the 1990 Commonwealth Games opening ceremony, he was art director on King Kong and The Lord of the Rings films, has had considerable involvement in The World of Wearable Art, and much more.

There were also two people's choice winners, which each received 63 votes out of the 587 cast: Weave Your Way to Thames by Julie Crimmins-Crocker and Miners Gates by John McKeowen.