Heritage Open Days in the Tyne Valley are now becoming a regular annual event. Buildings all over the country which are normally closed to the public are open during Heritage Open Days for the public to visit and see behind the scenes.
This is a large undertaking for a relatively small partnership such as Tyne Valley Community Rail Partnership but the volunteers all look forward to it. This year we were helped by have two glorious days of warm weather. With the help of Network Rail and Northern, Haltwhistle Station was open to the public to explore. The Old Booking Hall, still with all its old fixtures and fittings, is now the Education Centre for TVCRP, while Network Rail opened the iconic signal box now sadly decommissioned and replaced by a Portakabin, and is now used as a Network Rail office. On this occasion it was staffed by two former signalmen, both TVCRP Board members and a current signalman based at Low Row signal box.
Over the weekend we welcomed over 200 visitors as well as 31 students and staff from Newcastle College, Academy of Rail and Built Environment, providing a curriculum resource in terms of civil engineering in waiting rooms and walks, along with an introduction to signalling and introducing the work of a Community Rail Partnership.
TVCRP were able to showcase some of the wonderful people and projects we work with.
- The Platform Painters of Haltwhistle who were able to display their work. They meet weekly in the Old Booking Hall to do their painting.
Zig Zag an organisation to support local people who feel isolated due to disability, unemployment or mental health issues.
- The Rail Academy where we were able to discuss ideas for future co-operation. The next being a study day for students on the Haltwhistle Waiting Room project.
- Hexham Art Club who recently sketched Hexham Station and are now hoping to explore some more rail orientated topics.
- Hadrians Wall, this was painted by the Platform Painters and is used by TVCRP when they go out to publicise the line. It was used at the Heritage Open Days and placed outside the Booking Office to attract the attention of passers by.
- Our colleagues in Network Rail, Cross Country, and Northern who generously give up their time to assist in this event.
- South Tynedale Railway who hope eventually to run steam trains into Haltwhistle station once again, who were there to promote their work with pictures from past and present.
Over the days we met
- The great granddaughters of a former Haltwhistle Station Master.
- A freelance journalist working on a feature for Rail Magazine on the Tyne Valley line.
- Prospective tenants for the Haltwhistle Waiting Room project
- Made a short amount of video clips showcasing the visit of the rail Academy which can be used to develop other education work.
Heritage Open Days gives TVCRP an opportunity to discuss with the public in a relaxed atmosphere about the work of the CRP.
- To be able to promote the area as a good place to visit. Our guided walking tours to the Haltwhistle Arches on the former Alston line and the bridges over the River Tyne are always a very popular attraction for visitors.
- We are also able to discuss our educational work with schools and Northern's very generous travel offer for those travelling a fair distance to see a station in operation along with the special Edmondson ticket rack. TVCRP give souvenir Edmondson tickets to the school visitors.
- To discuss the forthcoming Waiting Room project where the former waiting rooms are to be restored and converted into offices/workshops for the small businesses in the area.
Hopefully during the two days the TVCRP was able to show our passengers there is much more to the railway than just buying a ticket from the machine.
Notes to Editors.