An exciting New Rail Heritage Project as Part of A Town Explores A Book 2024

L-R: Kevin Boorman, Chair Marshlink CRP & Director SCRP, Festival co-curator Yasmin Aishah and Andy Pope, Senior Community Rail Line Officer, 1066 Line.

We are delighted to announce that Southeast Communities Rail Partnership CIC is a key project partners in A Town Explores A Book 2024 exploring festival book choice The Railway Children by E Nesbit.

In collaboration with Southeastern Railway, a new outdoor museum at St Leonards Warrior Square station is to be realised exploring St Leonards-on-Sea’s overlooked rail history and heritage. This project inspired by E. Nesbit’s The Railway Children is supported by The National Lottery heritage Fund and Chalk Cliff Trust through Southeast Communities Rail Partnership CIC.

St Leonards-on-Sea’s story of how trains came to the town is a fascinating and complex history of ingenious engineering. It involves the story of a transient ‘navvy’ workforce that built the T-Ways, the temporary ways, that became permanent: P-Ways (these terms are still in use today).

This community lived in tented encampments in fields behind residential areas. Contemporary media stories about this workforce are mostly negative – stories detailing crime etc. This project will highlight the many positive stories of hard-working employees navigating multiple challenges in a life without basic services in their living quarters.

This workforce’s narrative is a hidden history that this project will uncover because, without this transient working class community, the stations, tunnels, railways and junctions that travellers use today would not exist.
In The Railway Children, the porter is a key figure in the protagonists’ lives, helping them to learn about and understand their world.