As part of Community Rail in the City, the Tyne Valley Community Rail Partnership took its stand to Glasgow Central Station, the busiest station in Scotland. The purpose of the event was to promote the Tyne Valley line in Northumberland and Cumbria and to make Glasgow travellers aware of the fantastic scenery along the Roman Wall, which is well within reach by train for a stress free day out.
Glasgow Central proved to be an excellent base. The station was remodelled in 1901-6 and has a magnificent glass roof. The stand was well positioned on the concourse under the iconic clock, close to the departure boards so all commuters and passengers had to pass by. The weather could not have been better being one of the hottest days of the year and we had a very pleasant working environment.
In order to attract attention a 4.8 metre long model of the Roman Wall was built. This project was managed by Matthew Barrett, TVCRP's Tourism and Development intern. The Wall turned out to be a real community effort with the painting of the wall, to make it look authentic by the Haltwhisle Platform Painters, a group of octogenarians who meet regularly in Haltwhistle Station to paint.
The stand had banners showing the Tyne Valley line and the stations served. On top was a model train, a 153, painted in Northern colours. This ran up and down a straight piece of track to attract onlookers. Also walking around the station were two re-enactors portraying a Roman soldier and a Celt. Just to tempt the crowd pieces of cake made by the award winning Billy Bell's butcher's shop in Haltwhistle, Northumberland, were on offer and a selection of locally brewed beer from Muckle Brewing was also on display. Had these bottles been full then we would have done a roaring trade in the hot weather.
The stand was staffed all day, not only by TVCRP volunteers, but also our partners, the Conservation Manager of the World Heritage Site, Hadrian's Wall, and Carlisle City Council. The team handled over 800 enquiries which they fielded brilliantly. How much does it cost to get there?, How long does it take?, Where can I buy the bottled beer from? How long is the Wall? etc.
This was regarded as a very successful day. Certainly for those working on the stall, the time just flew by. The travellers, many local but some from Russia, Austria, Canada and America were all very interested and many had visited the Roman Wall before. Some even plan to visit next week!! “We wanted something which would be an eye catcher and a conversation piece”, said Fiona Forsythe, the TVCRP official, “It's a great opportunity to promote our local area and places people can visit by rail”.
As a reward to the volunteers we were booked onto a Tour of the Central Station. These are twice daily tours where the group is taken beneath the station to see where goods were delivered and stored in Edwardian times, and later used by the Post Office Mail Trains. The train involved in the Great Train robbery in 1964, left from Glasgow Central. The Low Level Station was one of the last underground stations to be served by steam trains, and it was a very grimy place to be. It was a busy place for troop trains in the First World War and examples of an early wheelchair and stretcher were on display. We were regaled with stories about the people who used the station over the years. There was also a long drawn out lawsuit about the Caledonian emblem which was only resolved with the railway regrouping when the Caledonian Railway Company ceased to exist. The walls are decorated with murals featuring the history of the railway and there are great plans for expanding the museum. An excellent tour, to be recommended.
A good day, enjoyed by all. Having participated in the event last year that experience taught TVCRP much and this had a much better feel as well as attracting a larger number of enquiries.
Let's hope this event has given the passengers an idea for a day out and that the number of passengers on the Tyne Valley line will be greatly increased by lots of Glaswegians coming to see the delights of the Roman Wall and the Tyne Valley.
Notes for Editors.
The Tyne Valley Community Rail Partnership is a not for profit limited company.