The installation of Bedford’s first living wall is now complete, transforming a drab and neglected corner of St Cuthbert’s Street into a lush, green oasis.
As reported last week, the project was the brainchild of Rosanna Heasman, the owner of The Store in St Cuthbert’s Arcade and was part-funded by Bedford Borough Council’s Town Centre Priority Fund.
The aim of the fund is to encourage projects that contribute to the vision and vibrancy of the town centre, bringing people into Bedford.
“It was my absolute pleasure to be able to do a project that’s been in my head for so long,” said Rosanna.
“I love my town, I love the people, I love our planet, and to be able to just give a little something back feels good.
“It was so encouraging to see people sharing on their Instagram stories over the weekend of them sat outside or stood in front of it, just to add a new space for people to enjoy being outside in Bedford.”
Rosanna told the Bedford Independent that it had attracted a large number of people to St Cuthbert’s Street over the weekend and she recorded her busiest Saturday in the shop in a month.
“Two ladies who hadn’t been into Bedford town centre for over a year told me that they’d made the trip because they wanted to come and see the wall,” said Rosanna.
Neighbouring businesses were full of praise for the project, including Tim Edwards of Beerfly and Gareth Barber, owner of Bears & Tales cocktail bar.
“It’s great to see a really good idea come together, and executed so well too,” said Gareth, whose bar is opposite St Cuthbert’s Arcade.
“The street has a wealth of great independents and the living wall is going to enhance the area even further.”
“It gives the whole place a lift,” said Tim. “To me, it firmly plants the street as THE place to visit in Bedford.”
He said the town needed more similar initiatives to beautify the open spaces and bring people back into the town centre.
Alan Cooley, of Silverfields Living Walls who designed and installed the feature, said he was over the moon to have seen the wall ‘settled in’ to its new home.
Having spent many years installing vertical gardens in other locations, it’s the first project in Alan’s hometown.
“It has been a pleasure working with Rosanna and we should all thank her for having the idea and the energy to find the money to create Bedford’s first vertical garden. It’s certainly brought a dull corner of our town to life.
“Massive thanks to Steve at SR Carpentry for all his skill and craftsmanship. His work really finished off the living wall and frames it beautifully.”
Cllr Henry Vann, portfolio holder for town centres told the Bedford Independent that the council was encouraging more people to get in touch with their ideas for future funding.
“The Store bid for funding from the Council’s Town Centre Priority Fund, designed to encourage projects to bring people into the town centre and contribute to the overall vision of a town centre that is vibrant, accessible, green and diverse.
“The Wall really does look fantastic and I’m so pleased we were able to support this innovative and beautiful project in our town centre.”
Have you got a project that you think could enhance Bedford town centre? You can apply to the Town Centre Priority Fund here.