The mural paying tribute to workers of the historic railway workshops in Midland is on the wall of the Commercial Bar and Kitchen on Railway Parade. Picture: Andrew Williams

Tribute to historic railway workers

The response to a mural paying tribute to the workers of the historic railway workshops has been terrific says Commercial Bar and Kitchen owner Kevin Bartholomew.
March 14, 2024
Andrew Williams

A TWO-storey mural which pays tribute to the workers of the historic railway workshops in Midland has been unveiled on the wall of the Commercial Bar and Kitchen on Railway Parade.

The artwork depicts knock-off time at the Western Australian Government Railway Workshops as a stream of workers journey over the old footbridge towards the Commercial Hotel, the very watering hole the mural now resides upon.

Artist Jarrad Martyn, who grew up in South Guildford, completed the piece after just three weeks on Thursday, March 7.

Mr Martyn now lives in Melbourne, but he made the trip back to Perth after he was contacted by the owner of what is now the Commercial Bar and Kitchen, Kevin Bartholomew.

“The mural is based upon archival images of the workshops from 1939 so we’ve combined elements from that period of time that come together in the same frame, so the workshops, the bridge, the pub, and the train,” Mr Martyn said.

The workshops’ mural marks a return to drawing inspiration from archival images for Mr Martyn, who has completed an array of murals across the state, including the piece depicting an aeroplane on the corner of Roe Highway and Morrison Road.

“I’m usually interested in smaller localised aspects of history.

"More forgotten or less idealised versions of history, or how local history can intersect with state or global history,” he said.

"A few challenges were presented during the process, including the February heatwaves and harsh Western Australian sun, which Mr Martyn said added difficulty in blending the black and white tones.

“So, it’s just how to blend them all together and what tones do you want to push forward and what do you want to pull back in terms of spacial depth,” he said.

Mr Bartholomew said the idea for the mural crept into his head the moment he bought the historic pub.

“Since being here, the Midland Workshops are becoming more and more separated from Midland, and I fear they are becoming forgotten.

“I felt it was important for people to remember the old connection with Midland and the workshops. It a tribute to the workers who toiled there, and their families,” he said.

“The response has been terrific from locals, especially those who are connected to it.

"We’ve had people come in and say it reminds them of their fathers and grandfathers.”

The piece is undoubtedly a hit, as shown by a post on the Midland and Districts Historical Society Facebook page about the new mural, which received almost 70 comments and more than 600 likes in just a day.

The comments of the Facebook post convey appreciation and gratitude for the work as a snapshot of what life used to be like.

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