For the third year Tyne Valley Community Rail Partnership (TVCRP) has collaborated with the Wylam Winter Tales Festival.
The idea of the Festival is to celebrate the Arts with the local community in Wylam and the Tyne Valley, bringing light at the darkest time of the year through story telling, music, poetry, spoken word, film, crafts and history. This year, Wylam Winter Tales’ exhibition was entitled “Wylam Way: Collective Memory”.
Last year, Network Rail granted use of the original waiting room at Wylam station. The plan to use the same room for this year’s exhibition had had to be hastily changed when Network Rail planned some urgent refurbishment work in the room. For a while, the exhibition looked in danger. However, the waiting room is adjacent to the station house, a two storey building which is rented by Gully Howard Technical. Hearing about the exhibition, Gully Howard very kindly allowed Wylam Winter Tales and TVCRP to use the front room of the house for the exhibition.
The Festival ran for nine days and the station buildings were open 10 – 1 and 3 - 6 every day, staffed by volunteers from both TVCRP and the Wylam community. The exhibition showcased images from the collection of the late Philip Brooks, now donated to the community. Visitors to the exhibition were asked if they had any memories of Wylam and to write them down on luggage labels and hang them on a ‘tree’ in the centre of the room. This proved to be very popular and covered a great many aspects of village life. TVCRP were also able to show visitors their work on Open in Winter which promotes towns in the Tyne Valley. There were lots of photographs showing the village and these aroused a great deal of interest amongst residents who saw how the village developed and changed over the years.
The Festival team were very happy with the impact of the festival as most of the events were sold out and the exhibition attracted plenty of visitors. Anecdotally we heard about visitors who travelled to Wylam by train, thus increasing Northern's revenue, visiting the exhibition, having a meal and going to the events.
Wylam Winter Tales in now in its fifth year and becoming increasingly popular. One of the comments were “Wylam Winter Tales is growing every year. It is good for the villagers and an excellent excuse to get out and do things in darkest January”.