October 2023

Gloucestershire Heritage Hub

On and off the rails

On and Off the Rails is the major Autumn exhibition at Yate (& District) Heritage Centre from 5th October to 18th November.

 More specifically perhaps it is a major collaboration between museums within South Gloucestershire (Museums Group). Yate, Kingswood and Thornbury Museums with Avon Valley Railway (AVR) and Warmley Signal Box (WSB) met on several occasions to hammer out the content of the display for a touring exhibition which would travel to the main museums in the area and eventually South Gloucestershire Libraries.


The exhibition came about following discussions on producing a display on elements of  working-class history in the South Gloucestershire area. The key element was identifying something which resonated within different areas and the railway network ticked many boxes. Kingswood, Thornbury and Yate had come together in the past to create displays on chapels, anti-Slavery and the Armed Forces, but this theme provided an opportunity to include new organisations within the project namely AVR and WSB.


The exhibition is a 15 panel display telling the history and impact of the railways on our local communities and includes panels on working life, buildings, passengers and naturally, as we anticipate our core visitors, the locomotives themselves. Lesser known railway history such as the early 19th century tramway are also included and modern railways are also featured. Artefacts will come courtesy of the respective venue where the display will reside. Avon Valley Railway have supplied a delightful loans box which enables visitors, young and old to try on a railway porter uniform.   


The display has got off to a good start and many former British Rail staff have visited and often met with other staff from past decades. On and off the Rails will be touring the rest of South Gloucestershire during 2024. The exhibition is funded by South Gloucestershire Council Members Assisted Funding.


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