Volunteers and the Army get railway on track

AVR Volunteers Gardening Event 'Pics Sue Robinson'AVR Environmental Champion
AVR Volunteers Gardening Event 'Pics Sue Robinson'AVR Environmental Champion

THE development of the Aln Valley Railway (AVR) is on the right track, with volunteers flocking to help the project this month.

Last weekend, helpers turned out for a special two-day gardening event.

The weekend before, assistance was provided by soldiers of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) that support the Queen’s Own Yeomanry (QOY) in the form of a Light Aid Detachment (LAD).

During the gardening weekend, a large flower bed was constructed and edged with stones at the side of the station car park, which involved moving subsoil and topsoil across the Alnwick (Lionheart) station site.

Several large tyres have been donated to the railway and these were filled with soil and compost and planted out with various types of bedding plant. Various young trees, donated by well-wishers, have also been planted.

To allow access from the car park, the construction of a stone staircase, involving the use of stone slabs, bricks and railway sleepers, was also started, with work scheduled for completion by the end of this week.

Some of the volunteers also enrolled as members of the railway.

Roger Jermy, press officer for the AVR, said: “We would like to offer our thanks to the volunteers who gave up their time to help. The railway was delighted with the response from members of the public and valuable work was performed.”

Before this, the railway received help from the REME soldiers, who assisted in the movement of equipment and materials to the Alnwick station site.

The Army unit used it as a community engagement exercise to train its personnel in lifting, the driving of heavy vehicles and cranes and various manoeuvring skills, as well as treating it as a valuable team-building exercise.

It arrived with a variety of transport vehicles and brought up materials donated to the AVR from the National Railway Museum in York.

While in Northumberland, the troops moved track and sleepers and other rail components from Longhoughton to Alnwick, as well as transporting several containers of stores and equipment from the railway’s second base, at Wooler, to the Alnwick site.

Mr Jermy said: “Their assistance saved the railway manpower, time and expense and we’re very grateful to the QOY Army unit for their assistance.”

RAF Boulmer provided accommodation for the Army and the RAF has offered assistance to the railway.

QOY is the only Tracked Armoured Reconnaissance TA Regiment in the Army. Its regimental headquarters is at Fenham Barracks, in Newcastle, and has Squadrons located at Newcastle, York, Cupar, Ayr and Belfast.