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.
During the afternoon I swapped shifts with John, who was working on Northern’s model railway, in order to see more of the interesting things the Old Booking Hall had to offer. Northern uses the model to help demonstrate potential hazards to school children. However, it was very easy to forget the model’s true purpose whilst I was having fun driving the train up and down the track. The visitors seemed to be enjoying this too, as well as trying to spot the potential hazards for themselves.
Later, whilst trying to encourage visitors to complete a short questionnaire, I found myself being out-shone by an old ticket desk that I ended up stood next to. Complete with old tickets and original ticket machines, it soon became clear why the ticket counter was beginning to form a small crowd. Upon taking a closer look myself, I was approached by one train enthusiast who engaged me in an interesting conversation about how tickets and ticket systems have changed over the decades. He then gave me some insight into the old ticket counter itself and how the original ticket machines inside and the idea of a pre-printed card ticket were first invented by Thomas Edmundson whilst he was the acting Station Manager at Milton station which is now called Brampton.
My final activity of the day was a lovely walk which took me to all seven bridges throughout Haltwhistle. It was a mild day, so the walk was welcome. I found the bridges to be particularly fascinating due to wondering why there were so many in the first place. I was able to view all seven within a walk that spanned about a mile.
One of the highlights of my day had to be around lunchtime when the famous Royal Scotsman train happened to pass through Haltwhistle, delighting visitors and locals alike. I was astonished to learn that the cost of travelling on this particular train could cost you up to £4,000!
In the final hours for the day, local MP for Hexham, Guy Opperman popped in to support the event. We told him of our progress with the upcoming waiting room project currently taking place in Haltwhistle. He also took the time to talk to me personally about ways to promote tourism within the local areas of Northumberland which I was very grateful for.
I’d say this day was a fantastic success for all those that came and I loved that I was able to learn a thing or two from some of the fascinating people that attended.