EXHIBITIONS AND ACTIVITIES
As part of our National Lottery Heritage Fund grant, we are delivering an exciting programme of activities and events to celebrate Falling Sands Viaduct and its place within the history of the Severn Valley Railway. Starting with its Victorian beginnings we are exploring how it was built, who was involved and how it is being restored for the future. Activities include, working with local schools on a viaduct art project; archival research to discover more about the history of the viaduct; a celebration of navvy culture through song and performance, and the production of video presentations to bring the history of the SVR to life. We are also collecting oral histories to record volunteer accounts of the SVR over the last 50 years. You can find out more about this here.
We will also be using one of the railway's restored passenger brake vehicles as an exhibition space. The vehicle is a Guards Van but is affectionately known as The Stove R as it once had a stove installed. The vehicle will be based at Kidderminster Station but can also be attached to passenger service trains or stand alone in sidings. Most importantly it will begin to tell our visitors about the Victorian story of the SVR, the people who built it, especially the challenges and dangers involved. Visitors can then continue to learn more about Severn Valley Railway story through new interactive exhibitions and displays that will be installed at our Engine House in Highley.
Thanks to the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the restoration of Falling Sands Viaduct has enabled the Severn Valley Railway to reach out to the community and get them actively involved with the railway. The project has delivered an exciting programme of activities and events linked to the Falling Sands Viaduct and the early history of the Severn Valley Railway – a fascinating story that most visitors were unaware of!
What's happened so far
Researching our past
Teams of volunteers have been researching the history of the Severn Valley Railway, trawling through local and national archives, to find reports and period images to help bring the story of our railway to life. The project has helped to foster excellent contacts with other heritage railways, National Railway Museum as well as a number of local and regional archives. The project has greatly benefited from our own volunteer’s wealth of historical knowledge as demonstrated by the SVR Wiki website.
Over 200 local school children have enjoyed trialing a new immersive ‘hands on’ educational offer, discovering the story of the Falling Sands viaduct and the people who built it, the navvies. College Students have used Falling Sands as a basis for project work as part of the college's innovative Gaming department.
Engaging Young People
The Falling Sands Viaduct project engaged with young artists from Kidderminster District Youth Trust, introducing them to the history of the Severn Valley Railway and the people who built it. Young performers from the Youth Trust wrote and performed their songs and poems based on the lives of the Severn Valley Railway navvies at an outdoor night-time event using an illuminated Falling Sands as a stunning backdrop.
Guard's Van Exhibition
At Kidderminster Station, The Guard’s Van Exhibition uses audio recordings and video to introduce visitors to the origins of the Severn Valley Railway and the people who built it. Housed in a restored LMS Guard’s Van, visitors will learn about the challenges today’s railway faces in preserving the historic rolling stock and structures of the Severn Valley Railway after nearly 150 years of service.
Hands-on exhibition at The Engine House Visitor Centre
At The Engine House Visitor Centre at Highley, a new hands-on interactive exhibition shows visitors how the railway was built and an insight into the working lives of the men, women and children involved. A range of ‘have a go’ activities explain why tunnels, embankments and viaducts had to be built. Visitors can experience what it would have taken to shift 20 tons of soil and rocks a day.