Today I went to the Northern Conference for Community Rail Partnerships (CRPs) in Manchester at the Midland Hotel, a hotel known for having many party conferences. Its impressive size meant it was very easy to get lost and we probably would’ve lost our way numerous times if it weren’t for some very helpful hotel employees showing us the way.

The first presentation of the day was an update from Northern about their progress for the past year. They informed us that there would be 98 new Northern trains running throughout the Northern network. What excited people even more was the prospect these new trains would be in action by the end of 2019. However exciting this was, it did mean the end of the pacer, which in many eyes was way over due (by about 30 years) but there was a sense of strange disappointment on some people’s faces. This gave Colin a potential idea surrounding a potential ‘the last pacer’ trip.

The rest of the day was a mixture of presentations which were either ideas for potential CRPs to take on board, or things directed at all of us, such as a code of conduct talk. My favorite presentation for the day was by Sam, a Scottish singer who loved singing in Train station waiting rooms. Her talk was very impressive and her voice was lovely. The highlight of the presentation was seeing on her video that one of her destinations was Hebden Bridge station, as this station is very close to my hometown of Halifax.

During the day, I enjoyed a buffet lunch which included many tasty things such as a chicken in sauce dish with rice which was particularly enjoyable, I just wish I knew what it was! The final talk of the day was presented by Kul Basi from the department of transport. This was surrounding future government backing and funding for CRPs, it was good to see his reassurance of the importance of CRPs for the community and the promise of continued backing from him and the department for the future.

Today I set off on another tour of the wall with Robert Forsythe except this time it was the west portion of the wall and the Tyne Valley Line. Robert very nicely offered to pick me up at Prudhoe station and from there we made our way up to the wall. I would like to add that I strongly believe that the train is the best way to make your way towards the wall stress free however for the purpose of seeing a lot of attractions quickly, the car was the better option today.

Today I set off on my tour of Hadrian’s Wall with Colin, the finance director of the partnership. We started by heading from Bardon mill up to Gilsland. I was first shown the old train station at Gilsland, the current building could only be described as a very large old house. Hopefully this station is set to be reopened and modernized. It was clear from the location of this station why it would be very beneficial to be reopened. It is positioned in the perfect place for a walker to get straight off the train and begin their day exploring the wall. Gilsland also homes a lovely little town with the Samson Inn just 20 yards from the station which is the perfect lunch stop.

Following on from our trip to Poltross Burn, Colin and I started driving to Walltown quarry. Once we arrived we got out to have a mini walk to see the the quarry and I had the chance to view Hadrian’s Wall from there. The carpark itself was pretty full of cars and large buses. It later came to my attention that there was most likely some form of organsised race or charity run taking place as may people exiting the vehicles seemed to be dressed in running gear.

Today we held our second heritage open day where we welcomed people into the Old Booking Hall at Haltwhistle to take a look at various bits of railway history as well as up and coming projects. My job for the day was to try and encourage people to sign our visitor’s book. This turned out not to be as hectic as it sounds as I found myself encountering many train enthusiasts and engaging in riveting conservations that involved exchanging train knowledge. The day included various activities that everyone there could take part in. The first of these that I experienced was getting to see the inside of a signal box. I particularly enjoyed this as signal boxes are something my Dad has always spoken to me fondly about over the years. Therefore I took great pleasure in making him jealous by sending him pictures of the inside of the signal box.