Volunteers at a much-loved railway in Newcastle are celebrating a £10,000 National Lottery grant this month, all to help teach visitors about war horses.

Moseley Railway Trust, which runs Apedale Valley Light Railway in Apedale Country Park, Chesterton, plan to use the grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to develop their World War One exhibit.

The trust holds special events throughout the year, including authentic steam train rides and special Christmas and Easter trains for families.

Tracks to the Trenches, commemorating WW1, has become one of their most popular events, running from 13th – 15th May this year. This event is where they are hoping to expand, turning a little bit of Staffordshire into 1916 Western Front.

The money will go towards having working horses, mules and horse-drawn vehicles at the event to demonstrate how they were used to our advantage during the war.

It will also help to extend the permanent indoor exhibit, with the help of its diverse group of dedicated volunteers, to even include a working Trench Tramway wagon.

“My 17-year-old son Jon has been a young apprentice engineer volunteer for two and a half years,” said Bev Sharman from Clayton.

“He joined the trust just in time to be involved in the 2014 Tracks to the Trenches, mostly digging the replica trench and laying he field railway tracks.”

“He was even fortunate enough to be at the site on the day the BBC filmed Michael Portillo making a series about the First World War.”

The new project, labelled ‘The Power of the Horse’, will see the horses contribution to the war effort celebrated with the help of working demonstrations over the weekends events.

This will work alongside the working trains and replica trench to make the visitors experience as authentic as possible.

Vanessa Harbar, head of Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) West Midlands, said:

“Our small grants programme is enabling even more communities like those involved in The Power of the Horse to explore the continuing legacy of this conflict and help people to broaden their understanding of how it has shaped out modern world.”

Appeal Valley Light Railway

In 2014 the railway was award another Heritage Lottery Fund grant which has enabled them to build it into part of the local community.

Not only do they try to keep railway work as close to its original roots as possible, it is attracting families from further afield as a fun learning experience and attraction.

Sue Dodd, 35 from Newcastle, uses the railway regularly with her two children, Harry and Freya.

“We absolutely adore Apedale.

“The kids are never bored with doing the same things as there is always something new to learn in the mining museum or on the tracks.”

“Learning about the war is a fundamental part of our history and I can imagine many people would be amazed by the horses and how they played a pivotal role in the war.”

Moseley Railway Trust Chairman, Phil Robinson, said:

“We are once again delighted that the HLF have rewarded the efforts which our dedicated team of volunteers have made.

“We are very grated to HLF for their continued support.”


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