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New story trail celebrates rail travel and the history of Stoke-on-Trent

The North Staffordshire Community Rail Partnership (CRP) has created a story trail in Stoke to raise awareness of the local history of the town, the railway, and rail as a sustainable way to travel.

The ‘Duck Bills’ Great Railway Adventure’ trail invites families with primary school-aged children to complete various challenges and discover facts about Stoke, rail travel, and Stoke-on-Trent Station. At the end of the trail, children can write a letter to Duck Small to tell them about their discoveries and can also enter their letters into a prize draw to win a Family & Friends Railcard and a bundle of books.

The CRP partnered with Stoke Reads, part of the National Literacy Trust, to develop the trail, which was written and illustrated by local creative, Kidda Kinsey. The partnership has helped the project – which was funded by Avanti West Coast and Community Rail Network – to reach a wider audience, and it now features alongside Stoke Reads’ other trails on their website and in local libraries.

To launch the trail, a year 4 class from St Mark’s Primary School were invited for a fun-filled railway themed day. They started at the local library where they enjoyed a train-themed story, and then followed the trail through Stoke recording their discoveries. After completing the trail they travelled by train to Stockport where they learnt about rail safety from the British Transport Police and had the opportunity to try some hands-on experiences organised by Avanti, including a visit to the signal box and announcing and dispatching trains. 

At the start of the Easter holidays, the CRP also held a family launch event at Stoke Library where families could come along to pick up their copy of the trail plus a free book, courtesy of Stoke Reads. Over 70 children took part in free, rail-related activities including storytelling, illustration workshops with the trail’s illustrator, craft activities and games.

Emma McIntosh, community rail partnership officer at the North Staffordshire Community Rail Partnership, said: “The activities within the trail provide a great opportunity for children to explore the history of Stoke while also learning about, and taking pride in, their local area.”

Joanna Buckley, community manager at Avanti West Coast, added: “We’re proud to be working with local people and organisations to deliver this initiative to champion Stoke-on-Trent’s heritage and landscape, and hope it inspires young people and their families to explore places using sustainable modes of transport.”

To find out more about North Staffordshire Community Rail Partnership, visit their website here.