Hidden Stories come to life at Bridgwater Station

Severnside Community Rail Partnership (CRP) has launched a unique augmented reality exhibition at Bridgwater Station this summer.

Hidden Station is an exciting new free exhibition on Platform 2 of Bridgwater Railway Station.

After working together last year on Seed’s ‘What if?’ project that saw community co-created images and poetry displayed in public advertising spaces, Seed and Severnside CRP talked to users of Bridgwater Station about the kinds of arts projects they might like to see at the station.

“People generally said the same thing” explains Seed Director Scott O’Hara. “While they liked the idea of there being some creative element at the station, their usual way of spending the time at the station was on their phones. We saw an opportunity to bring those two ideas together and create something that could be enjoyed via a smart phone or other device.”

The project started by commissioning artists David McMillan and Jayde Perkin to meet with users of Bridgwater Station to create a series of stories celebrating people’s connection to the station. The artists have illustrated these stories, and Bristol based Zubr Curio have created augmented reality filters that will enable visitors to the station to bring them to life using their own smart devices.

Faye Keane, Community Development Officer at Severnside CRP, said: “This is our first venture using augmented reality and we are so impressed with the playful way it allows people to engage with Bridgwater Station.

“This ambitious exhibition creatively shares stories from the community to other local residents and passengers, creating a deeper connection to the station and enhancing the value it has for everyone passing through.”

Paul Webster, Support and Development Manager at Community Rail Network, said: “Railway stations have a long history of being more than just places to catch a train, they are also places where people meet and connect into the lives of local communities too.

“We are pleased and excited to have been able to contribute funding towards this creative and innovative art project which has worked with that community to tell and share their hidden stories about Bridgwater’s elegant station with a much wider audience, connecting the present with the past and the community with its railway.”

Debbie Ferris, GWR station manager, said: “This is a fabulous new addition to Bridgwater Station and we’re sure our customers are going to enjoy seeing how Hidden Station has helped to bring community stories to life.

“This is another brilliant example of the work Severnside CRP does in the local community through working with organisations like Seed. GWR has 10 CRPs on our network, and we are incredibly proud of the work they do. They have great local knowledge and I know that they all work incredibly hard, as volunteers, inspiring sustainable improvements to their community and the local economy.”

With the support of a range of funders including Arts Council England, the National Lottery and Community Rail Network, the exhibition was launched by the Mayor of Bridgwater on Friday 14 July, and will run through to the end of March 2024.