Films, music, dance and art exhibitions greeted visitors to the South Devon Railway in a two day creative take-over of the line, with new artworks, performances and digital media installations all made by young people who have learning disabilities, marking 60 years since the line closed to the public in 1958.
All Aboard, a project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, enabled 50 young people to learn about the popular steam railway, and work with artists to find new ways to interpret local history. Their research has included riding on the trains, visiting museums, talking to those who remember catching the train when it was part of the public transport system, and interviewing railway visitors.
John Brodribb, curator of the South Devon Railway Trust museum said,
"The South Devon Railway is a fully accessible heritage railway operated largely by volunteers and steam engines, and we believe it is important for everyone to know about and understand their local history. The Totnes to Ashburton line first opened in 1872, and the coming of the railway had a huge impact on the area. This project has helped another generation connect with their heritage".
New and original artworks were displayed all across the railway on 1st and 2nd September, including films in the picnic carriage and museum at Buckfastleigh and sound, sculpture, prints and drawings in the waiting rooms in Totnes and Staverton. A new radio documentary features local songs about the train between Totnes and Ashburton.
“It’s exciting to be dancing on a train” explains one of the young participants, “All Aboard is all about joining in and I like joining in”.