Figure 1: Acorn Artists with their mural at the opening celebration of completion of phase one in the tunnel.


Acorn Artists at the Acorn Village charity for adults with learning disabilities have designed and created a wonderful ‘Mural for Manningtree’ in the tunnel at Manningtree Train Station thanks to support and funding from ACoRP, Greater Anglia, Essex & South Suffolk Community Rail Partnership and Essex County Council. They have researched local areas of interest finding out about the history, visiting the sites and discussing with the group about their experiences. The Mural is now complete, one side has the train and points of interest, the other side has an abstract view of the Stour River with a poem created by the Acorn Artists. 


Interview with Acorn Artists: Catherine, Morag, Becky, Andrew and Louise


What made you come up with the ideas for the mural?


Catherine: The train mural- Colchester Castle reminded me of when I went with College, it brought back memories and I liked it. (The River Mural)- When I see the river from the train it reminds me of the sea, I like the different effects on the water.

Morag: I took loads of photos with my camera of different birds in the river, swans, terns and snipe. With the Redoubt Fort in Harwich, I went to the sea shanty festival (in the fort) on the sea shanty train and that inspired my picture on the mural.

Becky: Happy memories by the river.

Andrew: I looked at pictures and drawings of Mistley Towers. Angenita (Project Lead) helped me find out about the history on the internet.

Louise: I went on a group visit to see Grayson Perry’s house on a sunny day. It was colourful and different.

Figure 2: Acorn Artists discussing the project

What did you learn by working with the railway organisations? ACorp / Suffolk & Essex Community Partnership

Morag: I learnt how to use the ticket machine and where to find the help points. Also if you’re ill who to call to help you.

Louise: I knew a lot already, but I did make them aware of access issues when leaving a train.

Figure 3: Acorn Artist showing some initial river designs from one of their project books

What’s been your favourite part of the project so far?


Catherine: Every part of it, all of it!

Morag: Being part of the project and watching the trains. I’m very keen to do more with the community railway.

Becky: All of it, especially the river painting, poem and designing the ships.

Andrew: Doing the drawings, my sister taught me to draw.

Louise: Going to the launch of the first phase and seeing my work in place.

Figure 4: Halfway through painting ‘A House for Essex’

What would you like the public to think / feel when they see your artwork?


Catherine: I don’t want people to think it’s stupid, I want them to think it’s bright, bold and cheerful and not feel miserable when they see it.

Morag: Wow that’s amazing.

Becky: It’s beautiful & brilliant.

Andrew: Interested in it and the way I drew it.

Louise: Like they are there looking at his house.

Figure 5: Project lead Angenita with Acorn Artist’s painting the Stour River

How did you come up with the poem?


Catherine: Remembering times when I put my feet in the water when I was with friends.

Morag: I researched other poems, lots about rivers. I came up with smelling seaweed, which it does smell and I enjoy watching the river flowing backwards and forwards with the tides, it inspired me.

Becky: We had a board up with lots of different words and letters about the river. I came up with relaxing, we then put them in order.

Andrew: (He played a major part in the design of the river)- I saw the sun over the river. I can see the boats from my room and the river from my lounge. I have walked along the walls with my Mum, Dad and Sister Gemma.

Figure 6: Acorn Artist with her painting of Colchester Castle- she loved painting the sky!

Have you got a favourite part?


Catherine: The patchwork squares in the sky in both Willy Lott’s Cottage and Colchester Castle.

Morag: My favourite part was the launch of the first wall and the rail safety. I liked meeting the Council people and talking about Steam Trains.

Becky: Designing the boat for the Mayflower.

Andrew: Researching in the Library. My Mum and Dad seeing the painting up (in the tunnel) and I like the grass in the painting (of Mistley Towers).

Louise: I like all of it.

Figure 7: Andrew’s painting of Mistley Towers- he loved painting the grass tones.

Figure 8: Acorn Artists with Project Lead Angenita

How does it feel being professional artists with art permanently displayed in a public place viewed by thousands of people?


Catherine: Shocked, amazed and Wow!

Morag: I think I’ve got great talent and my art is so much better since I’ve been at Acorn. I have my Mum’s talent, they’re very proud of me for doing this mural.

Becky (after the biggest smile you can imagine): Cool.

Andrew (After another huge smile): I would like my artwork to be on television. I would like Richard Baker the newsreader to see it. I’ve met him.

Louise: It feels good.

 Watch the whole interview online here 


People First, Disability Second. Acorn Village is a registered charity for adults with learning disabilities since 1975. If you would like to support the charity please contact us on or through their social media pages on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Registered Charity Number: 263954


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