A STUNNING series of murals on the Oxford Canal have been hailed for transforming a grubby and graffitied part of the city.

Work on the four artworks on Elizabeth Jennings Way bridge and Frenchay Road bridge finished on Tuesday.

It is hoped they will inspire similar pieces of art further down the canal.

The project came from a partnership of the Canal & River Trust, Thames Valley Police, boaters, Oxford City Council and the Waterways Management Company.

Those behind it hoped it would tackle graffiti problems in a positive way and brighten up the canal.

Project organiser Tom Cox said: "I am really pleased, it has gone extremely well and all the residents seem to be happy with it.

"We wanted to use traditional graffiti techniques but show we could do real artwork rather than tagging.

"We wanted to improve the area and tackle the graffiti in a positive way rather than just cleaning it off.

"We have brightened it up."

The project was handed £8,000 by Tesco's Bags of Help scheme, which donates money from the 5p plastic bag levy to community schemes.

Professional graffiti artists were then recruited to create the murals, including Richard Wilson who created a work of Leicester City's title winning manager Claudio Ranieri on a wall in the Midlands city earlier this year.

The Elizabeth Jennings Way murals follow the theme of the canal's life past and present, as well as the local area.

The Frenchay Road murals are themed around wildlife and natural scenery along the canal.

Mr Cox said: "Some arches on the Frenchay Road bridge have been painted black by the residents and we hope to go back and put some murals on there as well.

"That will be the next stage.

"We hope other areas on the canal will be inspired to follow."

The murals will be covered in graffiti-resistant paint to allow any graffiti added to them to be quickly and easily scrubbed off.

Adrian Olson, who lives in the nearby Waterways estate, said graffiti had been removed from the bridges last summer but had quickly returned, leaving residents to find an alternative solution.

The 69-year-old said: "We understand from people in Cowley Road and other areas with murals that if you do proper murals they tend to be respected so we are keeping our fingers crossed.

"We wanted to make a proper welcome to Oxford.

"It might be an inspiration to other people to do something similar.

"I know further down the canal some people have planted climbing plants and things like that.

"Hopefully between all of us we might be able to clean the whole place up."