With the centenary of the armistice of the First World War coming in November 2018, Tyne Valley Community Rail Partnership (TVCRP) are making plans to celebrate this event, placing hand knitted poppies at each of the 14 stations on the Tyne Valley line. This is as a way to remember not only the tragedy of the First World War, but in some small way mark the role which the railways played in the lives of the communities of the time, and indeed the mechanisation of the conflict.
The idea to involve the railway began when Northern was approached by the Riding Mill Knitting Group explaining they were decorating the village for Armistice Day and asking permission to put some knitted poppies at the station. The idea grew from there and TVCRP saw a way to work with a local business, Ready Steady Knit in Prudhoe, and offer knitters a day out to kick start the project.
Northern sponsored the “Poppy Train” and Pauline Edwards from Ready Steady Knit recruited the knitters. The knitters boarded the 09.45 train from Newcastle to Hexham which was joined by knitters along the line at Newcastle, Prudhoe, Stocksfield and Hexham. After coffee at the station kiosk, another of the partnerships projects, run by local charity Journey, the 18 knitters travelled on to Haltwhistle, where the TVCRP offices are in the Old Booking Hall at Haltwhistle Station.
The knitters sat in a large circle and spent the day chatting and producing 71 poppies for use at the stations. The knitters thought that knitting was, “a great way of meeting people and making new friends, and it was a new experience travelling in the train and a really fun day out”.
This is not the end of the story. The idea has spread to other knitting groups along the line at Haltwhistle and Riding Mill both of whom are knitting madly to reach the target of 1,300 poppies required for the day. Collection points have been set up at various points along the line including Haltwhistle Library, Ready Steady Knit in Prudhoe and Hexham Station, winner of this years Station of Year (medium) award at the National Rail Awards.
It is hoped the Tyne Valley Railway will be busy on Armistice Day with people coming to visit the highly decorated stations.