A Place For Words: Peases West Railway Walk

What happened?

Writer, Julie Ward, and sculptor Keith Alexander were commissioned to create permanent pieces of work for a public footpath and cycle way following the route of an old mineral rail-track in the town of Crook, County Durham.

Julie Ward worked with local school groups and interviewed local residents about their relationship with the railway, the local area and the coal industries. She wrote a short story inspired by these conversations and then distilled the ideas and images into a shorter poem which was combined with Keith's sculptures inspired by pre-historic local ecology and placed along the length of the track. An exhibition charting the process of research and development was also organised and accompanying leaflets were produced.

The project had another, unexpected outcome, after the project had ended, the area came under threat. Julie attended the public inquiry into an opencast mining concern and read out both her story and poem. She felt that doing this lifted the mood of the meeting, by celebrating the place being considered. Significantly, both pieces of writing were quoted in the judge's body of evidence against further degradation of the area.

Project Gallery

Track Shot 1

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Track Shot 5

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Softly Underground

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Photographs by Julie C. Ward.

What made it work?

  • Julie is a writer with local connections. She already had relationships with local schools and community groups which developed throughout this project and have continued since. She felt personally invested in the project and its success.
  • There was a good level of investment in the artists and space for meaningful community engagement

Further information and links:

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