Travelling between the Derbyshire stations of Belper, Ambergate, Whatstandwell and Cromford, artists Miles & Dacombe staged their first Ticket Exchange on 23rd August. We offered a ticket with a question on it, in exchange we asked for an answer!
We made ourselves badges, tickets, bags and postcards, and jumped on and off the trains all day to talk to as many people as we could.
It was remarkable how friendly and open most people were. We are always delighted by the staff on this stretch of railway who all seem to be having such a happy time of it and love their jobs. They were all really supportive though rather bemused by our antics!
|All the railway staff we met seemed really happy in their line of work|
|and were friendly and welcoming to the artists.|
|Passengers alighting at Belper Station|
|A family group on their way to Matlock Bath for a day's outing|
This is one of the first passengers Carole met at Whatstandwell waiting for the return train from Belper. Carole had spoken to her and some of the other passengers, asking whether the trains were well used. It seems that since the introduction of parking fees at the station car parks there has ben a drop in rail usage, but the parking fees were introduced as many visiting walkers were parking before exploring the canal side walks. The passengers thought it might be fairer if parking fees were refunded to those who were travelling on the trains, as is common practice in supermarket car parks.
A husband and wife sitting in different parts of the train in order to capture parts of their journey on film.
Walking on up the carriage, we often turned around to look back and see people discussing their ticket questions with each other and sharing them around. Connecting again.
We felt we had changed their journeys. Intervening and asking challenging questions about train travel, asking them to consider a new viewpoint. "Have you ever thought of a network of rail travellers as a community?" "Are you leaving or returning, and how different do these feel?" "Do you ever imagine the story of a stranger travelling near you?"
|Jo giving out her tickets|
Some people wrote us answers on the postcards straight away. Others took their postcards with them to think about it more and post them back to us. We really hope they do.
|Mother and daughter|
We made new connections with 71 people that day. Some were travelling short distances, others were going a long way. Jo met a man who works at the Brush company in Loughborough, a place not only visible from the train but also just up the road from where Jo used to live. Other people connected to us through art - we met art students and art teachers. A small child drew us a picture.
|This lovely lady took one of each ticket as her husband was an art teacher!|
|We met Jim and Pat at Belper Station and travelled with them for a while|
It was good to visit the Stations again at Whatstandwell, Cromford, and short stops at Ambergate and Belper.
|At Cromford, yet another Handy Andy helping to collect his Aunt's camper van and take it back to Devon|
Beautiful nasturtiums in the planters and the commemorative sign at Whatstandwell Station. There are no longer any station buildings there but we did find this link with wonderful images of the station and lovely recollections by William E Glossop.
On the same site there are also the recollections of Mr A C Phillips a former Station Master at Whatstandwell Station.
Whilst waiting for Jo to arrive, Carole's eye was drawn to the house, some of which was built during the 1700's, which has a tunnel running beneath it. The previous evening, whilst Mac Canonymous was filming, Carole walked over the bridge and onto the towpath by the canal, only to meet Sheila, the current owner of the house.
Sheila very kindly invited Carole into her garden to see the railway line from the less commonly viewed direction. Carole invited Sheila to come and take part in the Ticket Exchange the following morning, but sadly they missed their connection!
|A slice of train heading towards the tunnel under Sheila's house.|
|A view of the house behind the restored Cromford Waiting Room|
We're looking forward to doing our Ticket Exchange again, this time at Whitwell, Cresswell and Langwith Whaley-Thorns, where we will be visiting on 15th September. Perhaps see you there?
Last train from Cromford Station