Taking the Railway to the Community in the Tyne Valley.
The last few weeks have been very busy for the volunteers of the Tyne Valley Community Rail Partnership, as they promote the Tyne Valley Railway and the operator Northern.
Last month the TVCRP took part in Community Rail in the City at Glasgow Central Station. Our Tourism Intern, Matthew Barrett, constructed a model of the Roman Wall which was painted by the Platform Painters of Haltwhistle. As the Tyne Valley Railway runs through Hadrian's Wall Country, it seemed such a waste to use this wall for only one event, it has been adapted and has now been used on several occasions to promote the railway and several Hadrian's Wall attractions.
Saturday 18th May saw the volunteers staff a stall and promoting the railway at the Living Well in Tynedale event at Hexham. This was hosted by Tynedale Dementia Action Alliance and was designed to be a fun afternoon that helps optimise physical and mental health. There were lots of stalls in the magnificent Hexham Abbey which was buzzing with representatives of organisations of all kinds, live music, activities and visitors. This was a good opportunity to network and learn more about the travel needs of dementia sufferers.
Spring Bank Holiday, Monday 27th May, was the day of the Northumberland County Show. Northern assisted with the transport of visitors and a special timetable was introduced which saw all trains call that day at Stocksfield. It was then just a pleasant walk through the country lanes to the show ground at Bywell. The TVCRP stall consisted of the Roman Wall along which ran a model train in Northern livery. The staff were soon being asked questions about the new timetable, the new trains, and when would the last Pacer run? “We are delighted that the Hadrian's Wall Partnership works so well”, said Fiona Forsythe the TVCRP officer. John Scott, Conservation Management Plan Co-ordinator for Hadrian's Wall, enjoyed demonstrating the reproduction artefacts which were brought by Roy Lawson,
Heritage Educator, www.roy-at-work.blogspot.co.uk. Another enjoyable event.
On Saturday 8th June the Roman Wall was on its travels again, this time to the Community Rail in the City event at Carlisle Station. This is the second year this event has been staged. It was organised by Katie Smith, Virgin Trains and Dawn McCough, Community Rail Manager, Cumbria, to whom we express our thanks. Unfortunately, this was not such a busy day as the weather conspired against us. It was very cold with heavy rain all day. Not the day for passengers to linger and certainly not the day to plan a day out visiting the Roman Wall. Nevertheless, our display was visited by many children (and adults) enjoying controlling the model train on top of the wall. However, the TVCRP will be back again next year. The Hadrian's Wall country is on the doorstep of those people who live in Carlisle and North Cumbria, and for visitors to the area, the Tyne Valley Railway provides the opportunity to travel to some of the Roman sites.
Involvement with these events would not have been as successful had it not been for the commitment of volunteers from the TVCRP and other local organisations in helping with preparation and manning of the displays on each of these occasions.
As well as promotions there have also been school visits to the TVCRP Education Office in Haltwhistle. On the 14th June there was a visit by Gibside School, a special needs school not far from the Metro Centre station. The pupils enjoyed the train ride up to Haltwhistle and were met by Fiona Forsythe, TVCRP Officer and Marie Addison, Northern's Regional Community and Sustainability Manager who told them about rail safety. They also learned new skills in maths and geography as they bought tickets for the railway from the Edmondson ticket racks. Afterwards they enjoyed a walk and explored the tunnel near Haltwhistle station. Every Community Rail Partnership should have a tunnel!!