60th Anniversary - Visit to Fete du Rail

Monday 7th Oct 2013

Three members of DTTIA, Glynis Alder, Mike Roff and Peter Stuart, attended the festival of railways, Fête du Rail 2013, at Longueau, near Amiens, over the weekend of 5-6 October.

This was the second such festival organised by Longueau-based ARPDO & Rotonde 80, the association for the research and preservation of railway documents and objects in Picardy, and supported by the town council of Longueau.
Longueau is within the larger metropolitan area of Amiens and is located about six kilometres from the centre of Amiens.

DTTIA was invited to participate in the event by Raymond Filipiak, Chairman of Longueau’s Twinning Committee, and Jean-Claude Boulet, Chairman of ARPDO & Rotonde 80. Amiens and Longueau, like Darlington and Shildon, are railway towns, proud of their strong railway heritage. ARPDO was set up to keep the town’s railway legacy alive through conservation and education, and Mr Boulet’s ultimate aim is to open a railway museum in Longueau, to display the association’s many collections.

The Fête du Rail was held to celebrate everything to do with the railways, past and present, and was dedicated to all those who work or have worked in the industry. The whole event had been planned with great precision, and the large site was very well laid out and managed. Like the French railway system itself, everything was on time and where it was meant to be!

A large number of historic and unusual French locomotives and trains were on display. In addition to the locomotives, there was an exhibition of vintage cars, and live music and dance performances.
The 60 indoor stands included displays by numerous model railway and other railway-related societies, including the local group of senior citizens, many of whom are retired railway workers.
There were displays of equipment and uniforms, photographs and videos. Many other local groups and societies were also represented, and there were artists, craftspeople and magicians. Delegations from Longueau’s Hungarian and Bulgarian twin towns, Karcag and Ivaïlovgrad, also had stands, alongside our own.

More than 11,000 people attended the festival over the two days, and we were very busy throughout. There was a lot of interest in our stand.
We took a large and colourful display about Darlington and the surrounding area, as well as many railway-related items from the North East.

We pushed the theme of Darlington as a tourist destination for North East England rather hard. We are, after all, the only town in the area with airport, motorway and high speed rail connections, and visitors to our stand were especially interested to see how accessible we are by rail from London and York, and how close to Scotland.
We had large banner displays about Darlington’s Head of Steam Museum and the National Railway Museum at Shildon, Locomotion, as well as the A1 locomotive “Tornado”, which was built in Darlington.

We also had information on nearby attractions, including the railways of the North Yorkshire Moors, Wensleydale and Tanfield, in addition to information on Beamish, Herriot Country and the Captain Cook Trail to Whitby, as well as guide books on both Darlington and Durham.
The display about “Tornado”, the newly built A1 steam locomotive, attracted a lot of attention. Some rail enthusiasts already knew about this ambitious project and have followed its progress on the internet, but most people were genuinely amazed to hear about the project.

To build a new loco rather than a restoration was thought to be “a magnificent adventure” and “a formidable achievement”. These were typical of the comments we heard.
There was great interest also in the three heritage railways close to Darlington, the NYMR and the Wensleydale and Tanfield Railways. Beamish museum and theme park also attracted a lot of attention.
We also plugged the easy access to the superb countryside of the Yorkshire and Durham Dales, and the Yorkshire Moors, as well as Whitby (Captain Cook) and Thirsk (James Herriot).
On the museums front, our own Head of Steam Museum in Darlington caused great interest, especially the presence of Locomotion No. 1, as did the National Railway Museum at nearby Shildon.
Brochures and booklets from all the above were eagerly snapped up, as were copies of the Darlington and Durham guides. Many of our visitors told us that although they were unable to speak English they could read it comfortably.

Report By: Glynis Alder and Mike Roff

Thank you email from the DTTIA to Germany:

DTTIA Visit to Fête du Rail 2013 at Longueau, near Amiens, 5-6 October 2013

We would like to send a very big thank you to everyone who helped to make our recent visit to Longueau and our exhibition about Darlington and the North East at the rail festival such a success.

We would like to thank each of you for your generous support, both before and during our visit to France, and/or for the loan of display material.

Our hosts, Raymond Filipiak, Chairman of the Longueau Twinning Committee, supported by Mme Colette Finet, Mayor of Longueau, and their team of deputy mayors and other committee members all made us very welcome in Longueau, as did Jean-Claude Boulet, Chairman of ARPDO & Rotonde 80.

It was great to meet Stéphanie Dapsance-Dixon and Tristan Montigny from the Amiens District & City Council’s European & International Office, who also gave us a warm welcome and supported us throughout our visit.

We were overwhelmed by the generous support and hospitality of everyone we met in France. We had taken a few souvenirs to sell on behalf of DTTIA and Tornado A1 Steam Locomotion Trust, and must send a big thank you to Gaële Moisset, Secretary of Longueau Twinning Committee, who very efficiently looked after our stand on the Sunday lunchtime for us. She sold quite a lot of our products, especially the Darlington and Head of Steam commemorative beers!

Our thanks go also to Barry Lamb and Tom Nutt for lending us numerous model locos from their collections. These were a big draw towards our stand, and some visitors would have happily bought the models.

We must also give special thanks to the fine 80-year-old Breton piper, an SNCF pensioner who had worked for 31 years on the Paris-Calais line.
He kindly came and played a couple of tunes for us on his bagpipes, which attracted even more attention to our stand. We do not know this gentleman’s name but hope that Jean-Claude will be able to convey our thanks to him.

Last but not least, many thanks to Alasdair MacConachie OBE and Alan Wilkinson of Sherwoods of Darlington for the loan of the Vauxhall Vivaro van, which lived up to its promise of being a fast, economical and quiet drive.
We found it to be a comfortable and pleasant vehicle to drive. The van performed faultlessly throughout the 900-mile trip. On the exhibition site we were amused to hear the following comment: “Ah! Sherwood – Robin Hood and his merry men!”

Glynis, Mike and Peter

View Gallery For This Article