Network Rail teams in the North East have volunteered their skills to help a primary school in County Durham acquire two disused railway carriages and convert them into a school library.
Kirk Merrington Primary School in Spennymoor appealed for help after outgrowing its existing facilities, following a surge in pupil numbers. The previous library was repurposed as a classroom, with the books moving to shelves on the corridors. The school fundraised to buy a disused pacer train, which is now being transformed into an imaginative learning environment.
In preparation for the two carriages to be installed, Network Rail volunteers carried out work to install railway equipment such as track, as well as sleepers and ballast which support the rails, for the carriages to stand on. The carriages have now been transported to the school, rolled from a low loader vehicle across the car park and secured in place.
The next part of the project involves removing the seats from the old carriages, improving the flooring and installing lighting. Once the work is complete, the children will be able to use the library and wellness hub to support their education. There are also plans to eventually open the refurbished railway carriages to the wider community.
Mick Hodgson, Route Operations Manager for Network Rail’s North and East route, said: “When I heard about the school’s plans, I knew our teams could help. I’m so proud of them for getting involved and volunteering their skills.
“This project means Kirk Merrington Primary School will have a library again and it will provide space for additional learning activities for many years to come.
“We really enjoyed being a part of this amazing project and we’re looking forward to seeing the transformation.”
Nicola Murray, Headteacher at Kirk Merrington Primary School, said: “We are very excited about this project and the creation of an amazing and exciting learning environment for the children to ‘Dare to Dream’ and re-engage with their love of reading.
“We are looking to repurpose our school library furniture to have relaxed seating as well as keeping some of the original carriage seating and tables. We also think our teachers can be creative too in their lessons in history, geography and science as we are a region that is steeped in railway history.
“We would like to thank Mick Hodgson and Network Rail for their support with this project, as without them we would not be in a position to create something special for our children at Kirk Merrington.”
Other volunteers also include colleagues from Kiernan Construction, who carried out work alongside ISG on the site, as well as teams from GCS Johnson who transported the carriages to the school.
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