The Addicks’ centenary at The Valley has been commemorated by a colourful new mural that has been painted opposite Charlton station this week.
Artist Lionel Stanhope, whose creations have livened up drab corners all over south-east London, spent two days working on the mural along with fellow artist Zara Gaze. The project has been paid for by the Charlton Athletic Museum, an independent charity which seeks to preserve and celebrate the football club’s distinguished heritage.
The mural marks 100 years since the Addicks first played at The Valley, just around the corner. It also directs visitors and tourists to the ground.
Lionel, whose creations can also be seen in Plumstead, Lee, Catford and Chislehurst, amongst othes, as well as Ashford in Kent, said: “It’s a nice one to do. The colours are really going to brighten up this little stretch outside the station.”
Ben Hayes of the Charlton Athletic Museum said: “As a museum we wanted to do something to mark the centenary of The Valley but at the same time brighten up the area. I drink in the Radical Club in Plumstead before games, so always see Lionel's work by Plumstead station and thought it would work perfectly at Charlton, Eddie Burton at Network Rail was really helpful and Lionel was keen from the start.
“The Valley has a special place in Charlton fans’ hearts for many reasons. Nearly all fans love their own stadium but what makes The Valley special is that it was dug out in 1919 by fans, one of whom was Bob Sims, my great uncle, and players.
“And then in the 1980s and 90s when we were forced to leave the fans, along with Roger Alwen and the other directors, fought to bring us home. The Valley is Charlton and Charlton is the Valley.”
Ben added: “We hope it helps local people take pride in their area. It certainly brightens up what was a bit of a drab railway bridge. The football club played a major part in reviving the local community just after World War One when the Valley opened and the sign is one way of that.”
Fellow museum trustee Clive Harris said: “Now, more than ever, our community is important. Charlton Athletic is so intrinsically entwined with the local community that to us, as a museum, it seemed the perfect way to commemorate the centenary of our beloved Valley. We hope it becomes an integral local landmark for generations to come.”
The mural also includes a small tribute to Charlton superfan Seb Lewis, who died this week from COVID-19. Seb had attended 1,076 consecutive matches home and away before being admitted to hospital, and Zara added the legend “Seb 1076” in the corner to finish off the mural on Thursday afternoon.
“It’s a nice touch to add his name and the number of games he’d been to,” Stanhope said.
Ben said: "When adding ‘Seb 1076’ was suggested, we thought it was a brilliant idea. It makes the design extra special for everyone connected to the club. Seb Lewis was a regular visitor to the museum so we're grateful to have a way to commemorate him in a small way."
Now Ben is thinking about teaming up with local residents for a bigger mural on the corner of Floyd Road and Charlton Church Lane to show off the history of the neighbourhood as well as the club: “There is a big blank wall that is ripe for a mural showing the history of Charlton from the Horn Fair to the Thames Barrier and, obviously, Charlton Athletic. It's something we'd love to work on with local residents and history groups.”
Fans who like the mural and want to help chip in towards the museum’s costs can send donations via PayPal to email@example.com, or contact the museum for bank details.
(Article by Darryl Chamberlain (The Charlton Champion))