Cracking up: Bow Mission Mural. Photograph: Russell Parton
Cracking up: Bow Mission Mural. Photograph: Russell Parton

A mural painted by Dalston Peace Mural artist Ray Walker has been severely damaged by repair works carried out to stop it from collapsing.

Two girders now dissect the Bow Mission Mural on Merchant Street, and a red resin has been used to fill cracks in the render.

Bow Methodist Church, which owns the building, ordered the repairs after receiving complaints from the doctor’s surgery below that water was seeping through.

Peter Barlow, Circuit Executive Officer of the Methodist Church in Tower Hamlets, said: “A very significant crack that had opened up at the top of the building showed that not only was the render was falling off, but that the wall itself was becoming detached from the building. Simply something had to be done.”

Ruth Miller, spokesperson for the London Mural Preservation Society, said they were “sad” to see the mural damaged, adding: “It would have been useful if those planning to undertake the repair had got in contact with us.

“However we are glad that whoever did the work did not paint over the whole mural. It would be good to see the remaining mural repaired and to examine what the possibility is for finding an alternative for the girders so that the whole mural can be recovered.

The work, which was supervised last year by Alan Pipe Architects, cost £80,000, and Mr Barlow added there is “no money left” to restore the mural.

The Bow Mission Mural was Ray Walker’s first solo mural, painted in 1978, and depicts local people going about their everyday lives. Before his death in 1984, Walker designed and painted the Dalston Peace Mural and helped redesign and paint the Cable Street Mural.

Many of his other murals, however, have been destroyed, including one on the Chicksand Estate in Tower Hamlets, and another commissioned in 1981 to mark the 600 year anniversary of the Peasant’s Revolt.

Ian Rathbone, Secretary of the Friends of Dalston Peace Mural and a Hackney councillor, said: It’s important to try and preserve this piece of art which also represented something of people in the area at the time.”

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  1. Thanks for this article. Ray’s work has become rare. This was painted using a different technique and paint developed in the later murals. Just to correct two points – Ray designed but did not paint the Dalston Peace Mural. He died before he could complete it and the work was done by Mike Jones and Liz Walker, Ray’s widow. Cable Street mural was painted by three artists which included Ray.

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