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‘Mind the Gap’: Celebrating the hidden histories of women and the railway in Bury St Edmunds

PUBLISHED: 15:57 07 November 2017 | UPDATED: 16:05 07 November 2017

Heritage Lottery Funding has given Smith’s Row Art Gallery £35k of funding for a new project at Bury St Edmunds Moyse's Hall. Pictured is Alison Plumridge. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Heritage Lottery Funding has given Smith’s Row Art Gallery £35k of funding for a new project at Bury St Edmunds Moyse's Hall. Pictured is Alison Plumridge. Picture: GREGG BROWN

A grant totalling £34,800 is going to help people in Bury St Edmunds find out more about life on the railway through the decades in a series of exhibitions and events in the town.

And it will also help to mark the 170th anniversary of the rail station and the 25th anniversary of the death of poster designer Sybil Andrews.

Bury St Edmunds Art Gallery Trust Ltd, trading as Smiths Row, has just received the funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and the project, entitled “Mind the Gap” celebrates the hidden histories of the women and families whose lives were shaped by the railway in Bury.

An exhibition at Moyses Hall Museum, which used to house the railway’s parcel office, opens on December 15 and runs until the end of February and will include original posters, artwork and historic railway artefacts, many on public display for the first time.

There are also plans to loan from a private collection three unique log books which detail trains that ran through the station from the First World War through to the Second World War as well as the Royal train passing through the station.

At the rail station illustrated panels will reveal the hidden lives and memories of passengers and workers forged there, in particular the women who worked in the refreshment room, the Railway Mission and the East Anglian artists whose designs epitomise the Golden Age of rail travel.

This is exemplified by the life and work of the railway poster designer Sybil Andrews (1898-1992) and marks the 25th anniversary of her death.

There is growing interest in her life and art, particularly since the Sybil Andrews Academy opened last January, on the edge of the town’s Moreton Hall Estate. It is all the more timely to uncover these histories as this country celebrates the centenary of women’s suffrage in 2018.

Bury St Edmunds Station Supporters Group and Greater Anglia are giving in-kind support to the project and organisers are keen to involve the local community in the project.

Alison Plumridge, the director of Smiths Row, said: “This will definitely appeal to the railway fraternity and it is the first time we have ever received a grant from the HLF.

“The Cambridge-bound platform will have displays including details of the history of the station master’s house. We are delighted to be working with Moyse’s Hall and this is our first big project.”

If you can help or if you have stories or artefacts related to the station or Sybil Andrews contact contact Alison on 07505 746477 or email Alison.plumridge@smithsrow.org

The exhibition has been conceived and curated by Smiths Row and is also being supported by St Edmundsbury Borough councillor Julia Wakelam.

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