Bath's piggy bank raised £200,000 for Two Tunnels scheme

Bath's piggy bank raised £200,000 for Two Tunnels scheme

The £1.8million pound Sustrans' Connect2 scheme to provide a gorgeous route through two tunnels and over Tucking Mill Viaduct is closer than ever before thanks to the squealing success of King Bladud's Pigs.

The pigs - the talk of the City - brought home the bacon this summer by raising a net total of £200,000 for the Bath Two Tunnels scheme - a project to turn a 2.5 mile stretch of disused railway line into a walking and cycling path linking Bath with Midford and beyond.

Last December, Sustrans' Connect2 won the Big Lottery Fund's TV vote to bring £50million to 79 communities across the UK to create networks for everyday journeys for people travelling by foot or bike.

Sustrans has pledged £1million from the lottery grant to Bath's scheme, and Bath & North East Somerset Council has offered up to £400,000 - but there was still a funding shortfall. That gap has now been halved, thanks to the impressive amount raised by the pigs - fundraisers and ambassadors for the scheme.

Taking the proverbial pig by the ears, Gitte Dawson, the mastermind behind the project, motivated a team of talented artists to design and decorate more than a hundred fibreglass pigs. Project manager Justin Braithwaite, supported by a dedicated team of artists and helpers, then installed them around Bath throughout the summer and brought them safely to auction in the autumn. He says: "It's been exciting to mount this public art event - we have proven that public art works in Bath and I hope it will lead the way for other such events in the future."

Visitors and locals alike have hunted the pigs across Bath and in surrounding villages, and this autumn, 101 animals were sold under the auctioneer's hammer, and the King Bladud's Pig's team hosted 15,000 people at the farewell event in October. For those who are missing the colourful creatures on the streets, they can still see them at and some have already appeared back in public view with more to follow.

Gitte Dawson says: "It's been great working on such a fun popular art project and at the same time, it benefits my favourite project, the Two Tunnels scheme. The public response to both the pigs and the path has been tremendous and building work should now get underway without delay. "

Malcolm Shepherd, Sustrans' CEO says: "The outstanding financial donation secured through the hard work of Gitte and her team has made a significant contribution to making the Two Tunnels scheme a reality. As number one attraction for visitors to the city this summer - King Bladud's Pigs have been a massive success and we anticipate that their legacy, the path, will also be a hit for visitors and locals alike."

Councillor Charles Gerrish, Bath and North East Somerset Council Cabinet Member for Customer Services, says: "The Two Tunnels project is consistent with Bath and North East Somerset Council's priority of improving transport and the public realm. Helping our partners provide better personal transport options through projects promoting cycling and walking is part of the Council meeting this priority."

With the majority of funding now in place, partners Sustrans and Bath & North East Somerset Council can sign an agreement to confirm their continued commitment to the project and appoint a project engineer. Once in post, the engineer will draw up detailed designs to renovate the unused viaduct and open up two long tunnels, of which one is just under a mile long, to connect the town and countryside for journeys by foot and bike.
It is anticipated that work to open this virtually flat route along the old Somerset and Dorset Railway Line will begin early next year and be completed by 2012, bringing together the communities of Bath, Midford and all the places in between and beyond.

Over the next few years works will include replacing more than 14,000 bricks in the Tucking Mill Viaduct, building two new bridges across roads and renovating six bridges en route - laying the foundations for thousands of people to walk or cycle in the nearby countryside to the benefit of both their health and the environment.

Frank Tompson, Chair of the Two Tunnels Group and a volunteer ranger for Sustrans says: "I am delighted that we have now secured the majority of funding for this very important project and I look forward to the signing of the contract between the partners as this will give the green light for work to begin on the ground."

The estimated cost of the Bath Two Tunnels scheme is £1.8million, with £1million coming from the Big Lottery Fund as part of Sustrans Connect2.

The £50million overall lottery award will be added to locally sourced match-funding to transform local travel in 79 communities throughout the UK - changing the lives of six million people who live within a mile of a scheme. Over the next five years, nearly £30 million will be invested annually in creating these local walking and cycling networks from Devon to Perthshire.

Source: Sustrans