Railways are still the most romantic form of travel. It’s rare that there are such bittersweet farewells when lovers part on the concourse of a coach station or in a crowded car park.
We need the steam, the plaintive whistle, and the waving. The waving from an open window is always good – if dangerous.
Railways lines that are no longer in use have a particular place in our hearts. To that end, Perth Theatre and Culture Perth and Kinross have launched a search for storytellers who can share memories of those long-lost lines.
These stories will form the core of an exhibition this summer called All Aboard! the Railways of Perth and Kinross, which will run at Perth Museum & Art Gallery from June 26 to September 19.
Dave Ferguson, chairman of Trains Across Strathearn (TrAcS) and Katie Mitchell, associate producer with Perth Theatre, were at Highlandman Station in Crieff today to help launch the search.
The project is searching for 12 people to share their recollections of the Caledonian Strathearn branch lines.
These include the Crieff and Methven Junctions Railway, Perth Almond Valley and Methven Railway, Crieff Junction Railway, the North British lines to the south of Perth including the Glenfarg, Kinross and Devon Valley lines, the Strathmore route from Stanley junction to Coupar Angus, and the Alyth and Blairgowrie branch lines.
First class travel at Perth and Kinross
“For railway and train lovers of all ages, the All Aboard! exhibition will explore the heyday of rail travel and features original objects together with model railways, photographs and videos,” says JP Reid, senior programming and interpretation officer for Culture Perth and Kinross.
“Railway travel across Scotland has changed radically since the mid-20th century and people’s stories and memories of Perth & Kinross’ Railway past provide a powerful insight into that change. Displayed alongside railway artefacts and photographs, the voices of railway workers and passengers are at the heart of this story.”
The storytellers don’t need to have been employed by the railways, although former workers are welcome. They might have been regular travellers or people who witnessed anything unusual or remarkable along the lines when they were in use.
Co-ordinating the project is Perth Theatre’s Learning and Engagement team, who are looking to hear from anyone with a story to tell by Friday, May 14.
The 12 people will then be chosen and provided with packs that will help to spark their memories and to shape the stories they want to tell.
The packs, which are designed and illustrated by Laura Darling, will include short videos with railway experts, objects that will support reminiscence about the railway lines, and creative activities that will stimulate recollections and get people thinking about how they want to share their experiences.
Railway travel across Scotland has changed radically since the mid-20th century and people’s stories and memories of Perth & Kinross’ Railway past provide a powerful insight into that change.”
A member of the Perth Theatre team will arrange to meet them outside to audio record their stories and recollections.
These recordings will then be used as part of the All Aboard! exhibition, and will ultimately become part of the Perth & Kinross Archives held at the AK Bell Library.
“It’s important that future generations can hear people’s stories and get a feel for the impact the railways had on the lives of those who travelled on them,” says Victoria Beesley, associate director – learning and engagement for Perth Concert Hall and Perth Theatre.
“The activity packs are designed to get people thinking about places, people and events they may not have thought about for a number of years; or the railways might be linked to important moments in their life that they want to share with us.”
Anyone who would like to get involved in the project is asked to register their interest by emailing Perth Theatre’s Learning and Engagement Team at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07931 237769 by Friday, May 14. Activity packs will be sent out the week beginning May 24, with audio recordings taking place between June 7 and 19.