Shoppers and visitors to Banbury may have noticed a welcome change to Church Lane with the ‘Pocketful of Sunshine’ installation; the latest initiative from Banbury Business Improvement District (BID).
The ‘Pocketful of Sunshine’ installation sprouted up in the alcove near the bottom of Church Lane. Once a neglected space rife with graffiti and litter, the space has been transformed with a sun mural and boxes of wildflowers.
Cheery suns also beam down from upon high to greet shoppers as they walk through the Lane.
The idea came to BID manager, Jo Holland in her first week while touring the town, she said: “As I walked down Church Lane a seed of an idea came to me, I’d love Banbury to become known as The Sunshine Town.”
“During its five-year term, Banbury BID will be investing £1 million on town centre improvements, but in the interim I wanted something visual for our levy payers and the public to enjoy whilst we’re working on other projects.”
The concept came from one of the Jo’s favourite places to visit, The Eden Project, “One of the Mediterranean biodomes has stunning blue walls and vivid flowers, so I started bouncing ideas around with the BID chairman and he began sketching ideas based on our iconic sun,” said Jo.
Explaining the sun motif emblazoned on the wall and lining the Lane, BID chairman, Chris Tymon, from Toast Design, said: “Our town has a rich history something we are proud of - we took inspiration for our ‘sun’ from Banbury’s Coat of Arms.
"Its motto translates as 'The Lord is our sun and shield' which is very fitting given the BID’s role to nurture and enhance what makes our town special.”
The blue wall really sets off the original mosaic tiled floor, which was somewhat hidden before but has since been re-grouted, cleaned and preserved hopefully for another 100 years as part of the project.
Banbury BID has also been researching the history of the area as celebrating it is an important part of the Pocketful of Sunshine project, Jo said: “We still don’t have the full history yet and I’m on a quest to find out all its previous uses as far back as we can go.
"We do know it dates back as far as the 1800s and was connected to the theatre.”
Projects like this while relatively quick to implement still involve time and planning.
“The Pocketful of Sunshine really has been a team effort,” explained Jo. “The project has meant collaborating with many people and businesses from within and outside the BID district to bring it to life."
In the meantime, it is hoped the Pocketful of Sunshine spreads a little cheer to shoppers and visitors to Banbury.
Banbury BID is encouraging people to include the hashtag #PocketfulofSunshine when uploading photographs taken of the area to social media for a chance to have them to be shared on its social media channels.
The Pocketful of Sunshine has been made possible thanks to Banbury BID and its contributing 539 levy paying businesses and organisations.
Special thanks to BID Town Hosts, Jo Samways and Nate Wilde, Neil Wild from Wild Property Consultancy, Chris Tymon from Toast Design, Ken Gillet from Sweet Celebrations, Edge Signs, Hilliers Garden Centre and Oxford Planters.