A new walkway linking communities either side of London Bridge station is now open following the transformation of Stainer Street, alongside an iconic new artwork from a leading contemporary artist.

The walkway connects communities directly enabling pedestrians to walk through from Bermondsey to Bankside without going into the station.

It is crowned by a landmark new artwork by South London based artist Mark Titchner, called ‘Me. Here. Now.’

The work comprises of three polished stainless steel domes, measuring from 4.5 to 6.5 metres in diameter, suspended from the ceiling of the northern end of the walkway, and printed on either side of geometric designs with three succinct texts. They offer a mantra to passengers and visitors underneath encouraging a moment of pause and self-reflection, whilst mirroring the brickwork ceiling and the movement of everyday life below.

Stainer Street has a rich history from being the one-time residence of famous poet John Keats, to its use for storage by the wine trade in the 18th and 19th centuries, to a bomb shelter during World War Two, where during one raid 68 people were tragically killed. In recent times, following various station works, the street had been neglected, becoming a polluted cut-through for traffic and unwelcoming for pedestrians.

The Thameslink Programme, responsible for the reconstruction of London Bridge station, was determined to transform the space and ensure that the street would play a more positive role in connecting those living and working nearby the station.

The 168-metre street has now been fully restored with its original brickwork cleaned and repointed creating a 9-metre wide brightly-lit walkway, together with new retail units which will be opening soon to help generate more income for rail improvement projects.

The walkway was opened at 11am on Wednesday, 17 October, by dignitaries from the local community and the artist, who pulled the gates aside, letting the public through for the first time.

Simon Blanchflower, Thameslink Programme Director for Network Rail, said: “As well as enhancing London’s fourth busiest station for travellers, we wanted to improve the experience of living in the area for the local community and its attractiveness as a destination for visitors.

“We’ve done this through the conversion of Stainer Street into a walkway that is bright and welcoming. Working with leading artist Mark Titchner we’ve been able to create something special which we hope will encourage users to engage with their surroundings, be wowed and reflect in one of the busiest parts of London.“

Artist, Mark Titchner added: “During the frantic activity of commuting, one’s thoughts tend to wander away from the ‘here and now’ and travel becomes the space between two destinations of the mind as well as the body.

“Although we’re surrounded by others, we remain separate, quietly alone with our thoughts, dreams and anxieties and this work seeks to address that by providing a space for self-reflection with our fellow travellers giving that mental space a physical form which unites us as individuals with those around us.”

Sherry Dobbin, Cultural Director at Futurecity, said: “The Arts Advisory Panel assembled for this commission responded  to the importance of Mark Titchner as a local South London artist and his direct consideration of ‘travel’ in his proposal. By interpreting the physical activity of movement and the metaphor for a journey of self-improvement and growth in this work, he has opened up a safe space for the millions of travellers daily who rarely are invited to pause and think or look at their environment.”

Nadia Broccardo, CEO Team London Bridge, said: “The London Bridge business community asked Network Rail for improved public spaces and cultural features in the new station and Stainer Street delivers both in style. The newly pedestrianised walkway provides a fantastic new location in which our culture ctrategy can be realised.  The artwork welcomes and draws people through the station to explore, shop and visit the attractions in London Bridge.”

The Thameslink Programme has upgraded the country’s fourth busiest railway station in a £1billion transformation nearly doubling its passenger capacity and enabling more and faster connections for passengers. In a five-year build, Costain on behalf of the Thameslink Programme, has created the largest street level station concourse in the UK for passengers to make their connections smoothly and efficiently. Work has included a major track upgrade, a new rail underpass on the approach to the station and platform widening and extensions all of which has enabled a 30% increase in train capacity.

The Government-sponsored £7bn Thameslink Programme is an ambitious 10 year programme to transform north-south travel through London. It is delivering new longer and more spacious trains running more frequently than before, through central London in the peak, improved connections to more destinations on an expanded Thameslink network including Cambridge and Peterborough and more robust tracks and modern signalling using digital railway technology to make journeys more reliable. The Programme has also completely rebuilt stations at Blackfriars and London Bridge. Thameslink Programme is being delivered in partnership between the Department for Transport, Network Rail, Govia Thameslink Railway, Southeastern and Siemens.