Speedway and trams enter Kilbirnie Streets again

29 June 2015

Sheyne Tuffery’s latest mural project, at Coutts Street, recalls Kilbirnie’s history in a series of colourful, contemporary images that are playful and informative.

Speedway mural by Sheyne Tuffery, Coutts Street

Speedway mural by Sheyne Tuffery, Coutts Street

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The murals will be painted on the façade of two buildings, either side of the service entrance to Countdown, between Queens Drive and Onepu Road in Kilbirnie. They pay homage to the Speedway that was once located where Rongotai College is and to the tram shelter, (now the bus depot).

Well-known artist, Sheyne Tuffery has exhibited extensively nationally and internationally, and his murals feature on streets in both Wellington and Auckland.

“I’m an amateur historian so when designing a mural I start with the history of a place and work out what the story behind the space I’m going to transform is. This is what really interests me.”

Trams loom large on the façade of 9 Coutts Street alongside three female conductors, ticket bags slung over their shoulders. From the top of 21 Coutts Street young motorcyclists look intently at pedestrians as they rev their bikes ready for the race.

“It was nice to be able to acknowledge the history of the tram and bus depot that’s been there for almost 100 years, but the biggest surprise for me was discovering that there was a Speedway right beside Rongotai College that opened in 1929  – how cool is that – I just had to put it up there.”

When researching this area Sheyne came across some great photos of young men on their bikes at the Speedway. These images quickly formed the basis of the mural design for 21 Coutts Street. The names of the racers represented are Tonks, Roberts and Lowndes – almost 90 years on, they are acknowledged as part of the history of this area.

Coutts Street was named after larger than life James Coutts Crawford, Wellington’s sheriff and resident magistrate. His mark on Wellington still remains not only in the street names but in the names Crawford Prison (on Mount Crawford) and the well-used Crawford Green.

As well as Tuffery’s murals, following consultation and feedback from the local community and businesses Council will be making streetscape improvements including redeveloping planters, refreshing banners, installing Cyclehoop bicycle parking, a cycle maintenance stand and pump and installing benches for people to take a break and view the murals.

“The upgrade to this part of Coutts Street has been anticipated for some time so it's great to see these improvements revitalising the area,” says Eastern Ward Councillor Sarah Free. “We have done extensive consultation with our local businesses and residents and I’m confident these upgrades will deliver some pleasing results within a reasonable budget.”

Sheyne Tuffery will begin painting during the week of 29 June weather dependent.