Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Still Making a Splash

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Still Making a Splash

Article excerpt

Byline: Tony Henderson Environment Editor

ADECADE ago 10-year-old Zoe Hall designed a decorative panel for a historic Northumberland viaduct.

Now, Zoe, 20, has returned to the Kielder Viaduct to see her owl design as part of celebrations for the 10th anniversary of the event which saw the ironwork panels added to the 1862 structure.

The wrought iron panels were made by about 60 blacksmiths from across the country at the Forge In event at Kielder Water and Forest Park in 2004.

However, the illustrations which inspired the decorative panels, drawn by schoolchildren and community groups in Kielder, were thought to have been lost. When members of the Kielder Viaduct Heritage project team started researching the viaduct's stories, they found the drawings at blacksmith Stephen Lunn's forge in Red Row, Northumberland.

Kielder Viaduct, which was built by the Border Counties Railway, serviced the mines and quarries in the North Tyne Valley and carried passengers between Hexham and Scotland until the line closed in 1958.

The redundant Kielder Viaduct was on the verge of being demolished until the Northumberland & Newcastle Society stepped in to save it, buying it for just PS1. Now the viaduct is part of the Lakeside Way, a 26-mile multiuser trail which encircles Northumbrian Water's reservoir. Oral historian, Dr Liz O'Donnell, who made contact with blacksmith Stephen Lunn, said: "Stephen helped instigate the Forge In event. I had no idea when I went to record Stephen's memories of the day for the Viaduct Heritage Project that he had kept the original designs."

Zoe Hall was one of the children who drew local wildlife, plants and trains for the decorative panels 10 years ago.

She said: "I hadn't seen my original owl drawing since the event 10 years ago. Seeing it was really weird and brought back a few memories, but it was nice to see it and be a part of history. I feel proud knowing that the panels on the viaduct are going to be there for a long time."

Three of the blacksmiths involved in making the original panels also returned to the viaduct to create a commemorative plaque which was unveiled by councillor Val Tyler. …

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