Beds, Herts & Bucks

Petition calls for M25 'give peas a chance' graffiti return

Graffiti Image copyright TOM MCCUSKER/Rhodri Tippett
Image caption The original "give peas a chance" graffiti has been replaced with "give Helch a break!!!"

A petition has called for a "comforting" piece of road graffiti on the M25 to be reinstated and protected.

A bridge between junctions 16 and 17 in Buckinghamshire daubed with the words "give peas a chance" signalled to many drivers they were nearly home.

Road users say it was "an iconic part of modern British history" but has been replaced by "give Helch a break!!!".

A petition, signed by more than 2,000, has asked for a "protection order" for the bridge and original message.

A spokesman for Network Rail, which owns the bridge, said: "While we sympathise with requests to reinstate this much-loved graffiti, we simply cannot agree to deface our own structures.

Image copyright Tom McCusker
Image caption The original "give peas a chance" graffiti signalled to many drivers they were nearly home

"For us, no graffiti is good graffiti. If it is obscene or offensive we remove it. That's why this inoffensive slogan stayed up for so long. But while we 'gave peas a chance,' it seems, sadly, another criminal graffiti artist did not."

The words "give peas" were removed on Sunday, replaced by "Helch" on Monday and on Wednesday the whole wording was changed to "give Helch a break!!!".

It is not known who or what "Helch" is.

Image copyright Gareth Jones
Image caption The graffiti was changed to "Helch a chance", but has been further changed to "give Helch a break!!!"

Any member of the public can apply for a building to be listed and these are then reviewed by Historic England.

Historic England will make a recommendation to the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Arts, Heritage and Tourism, who makes the final decision.

Local authorities can also compile their own list of buildings with historic significance in their area.

The petition, directed to Arts, Heritage and Tourism minister Michael Ellis, said the original slogan had been emblazoned on the bridge for more than two decades and had now been "defaced".

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"Peas" was reportedly the name of a London graffiti artist who daubed his name on the M25's only Edwardian bridge, near Denham.

The words "give" and "a chance" were added later, with the amended graffiti thought to refer to his frequent arrests, according to an historic building report by Oxford Archaeology.

A Facebook group to celebrate the graffiti has nearly 8,000 followers and its administrator said the bridge was a "sign of being nearly home. It's a sign of family".

Network Rail said it takes a zero-tolerance approach to graffiti, as artists place themselves in danger on railway lines.

In June, three graffiti artists were killed after being hit by a train near Loughborough Junction in south London.

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