YOUNGSTERS have proudly unveiled a mural they fought five long years to see.
A boring wall in Chewter Close, Southsea, has been transformed into a railway scene by artist Oliver Merkin.
The wall, and one opposite, are the only surviving sections of the old East Southsea Railway Station.
Young people who walk past them every day decided in 2006 to campaign to brighten them up.
Emily Coomes, of Chewter Close, wrote a letter to the then Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Fred Charlton, asking for a mural.
Following his advice, Emily and her friends, Roxanne Francois, then 11, Vada Washington, 11, Zoe Ings, 11, Kayleigh Morgan, nine, Kayleigh Postlethwaite, eight, and Gemma Childs, 13, set about researching the area’s history.
The girls found lots of information about the station – formerly the main link to London before and during the First World War – but could only find one picture.
Five years on, it is this photograph that’s been used as inspiration for the mural by Mr Merkin.
Emily, now 15, said: ‘It looks lovely. It’s traditional and suits the area perfectly. We’re so proud we managed to get it done, even if it did take quite a long time. It shows that young people can make a difference.’
After securing funding from Portsmouth City Council’s Hand-in-Hand fund and First Wessex Neighbourhood Improvement Fund last year, South East Hampshire Community Outlook took over management. And the youngsters worked closely with the artist to develop image ideas.
Andrew Mason, head of regeneration and resident involvement at First Wessex said: ‘It’s brilliant that we’ve been able to utilise this historic wall and bring alive the area’s history.’
In 2007, the residents gained additional funding for the opposite wall from Young Money and painted it themselves with a modern, colourful picture of the train.
Emily’s mum Sarah Jewell, 44, said: ‘Tourists used to come round to see the old station on their historic walk and there was nothing for them to see, but now they have these lovely pictures.’