Gloucestershire Heritage Hub

South Gloucestershire

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.

Heritage resources for World Wars 1 & 2

The excellent heritage resources to be found on South Gloucestershire council's website include a war memorial page researched and collated with National Lottery heritage funding.  It initially focused on World War 1 as part of commemorations of that War's centenary, but has since been updated to include information on those who died during World War 2.  It now covers over 1500 local people who lost their lives in both World Wars as recorded on over 62 war memorials across South Gloucestershire.  The resource includes both civilian and military casualties and can be searched by either either first or second name. Information about an individual's family and war service is added where known.  The site also contains information on regiments and medals awarded.

South Gloucestershire's World War 2 Stories resource is the result of an 18 month project which explored the impact of the Second World War on the area.  The project, which received National Lottery heritage funding, celebrated and documented the lives of ordinary people who lived through the most rapid period of change in the last century.  Memories and experiences were captured in reminiscence sessions and community events.  You can read them on the website and watch films made of 10 people's stories.  The resource also includes a guide to reminiscence sessions, as well as presentation slides and notes for schools.

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