The team at Tyne Valley CRP have been supporting the Newcastle branch of charity, St Vincent de Paul (SVP) as they start their work as station adopters of Manors Station.
Manors is on the East Coast Main Line just north of Newcastle, but is not currently within the area of any CRP. Manors is served by the service from Carlisle along the Tyne Valley Railway to Morpeth.
Once a very large station with nine platforms, seven of which were closed in 1978 with the building of the Tyne and Wear Metro. Sadly, most of the station was demolished leaving only an island platform serving local trains.
The SVP adopted Manors in August 2022. The charity supports diverse group of individuals consisting of migrants, former homeless people, students, the deaf and local community etc. They have a large number of skills which they can bring to station adoption. Dr Megan Nottingham, SVP Well-being Coordinator, spoke of their plans on how to make the station interesting, attractive and welcoming. Various groups in SVP are taking part. The Poetry and Pie Men's Club, the Art Club, the Chit Chat Ladies Cafe, the SVP Walking Group, the Textile Programme and Knit and Natter Club. In addition, members of the SVP partner organisations will be invited to take part in the improvement of the Manors surroundings: Chilli Art Studio, Ouseburn Farm, Big River Bakery, Tyne Housing, The Mind Charity, Women East End, and In-common Crafts.
At the first meeting with the station adopters from the Tyne Valley, SVP members travelled up to the Old Booking Hall at Haltwhistle. Various ideas were discussed bearing in mind which were practical, likely to be achievable and gain support from Northern.
There is a lot of waste land around the station, which creates opportunity for a project focussing on ecology, sustainability and biodiversity.
There are a lot of blank fencing on the station approaches which could be linked with the history of Newcastle, its rich architecture and diverse communities. One SVP member wants to be a tour guide and has already debuted the station's history into his tours. SVP will approach the metal, textile and wood artists who can decorate the surroundings. The object is to communicate, include and engage with the wider community.
The CRP had invited Megan to join them at the recent Community Rail Awards event and she had the opportunity to meet other station adopters and gather more ideas. She said, “there was so much achieved in Manchester, and I am looking forward to the future”.
The plan to form close working between Manors and Haltwhistle, includes mobile workshops. A group from Manors could start with a session on the train on the way to Haltwhistle followed by a session for people from the Haltwhistle area.
The partnership has already started as Manors has secured a two week visit from the cyclo machine at the SVP centre from 29 October. The cyclo machine project is designed to encourage active travel, explore travel by rail whilst knitting scarves to keep warm.
It is envisaged that with the opening of the Northumberland Line in 2024, more trains will stop creating more travel opportunities for people in the area.
Dr Megan Nottingham said, “I am delighted, this opportunity helps to develop our role in the community in a very visible manner – making Manors’ adoption a true co-production project, focused on building resilience, well-being and the shared creative outcomes”.