Colne Valley Railway

Core were commissioned by the Colne Valley Railway in Essex to complete the interpretation, design and fit-out of a new visitor centre, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund as part of a site-wide redevelopment.

We worked with a passionate team of volunteers, passionate about the heritage of the railway and very knowledgeable about its history. The railway owns a number of locomotives, both operational and under restoration. The site also boasts a number of other visitor attraction features, such as a miniature railway and two scale model railways.

We carried out research and consulted with the volunteer team to understand the breadth of stories relevant to the site, the locos and coaches and object collection. The interpretation and narrative developed collaboratively by our team and the expert volunteers tells the story of the development of the railway through its peak during the industrial revolution, supporting local brickworks industries and the WWII effort, before the railway’s decline and eventual preservation by the community as a heritage attraction. The story focuses on the people of this community whose lives were greatly influenced by the railway.

The new exhibition space links the people stories of the railway with the activities that visitors can experience whilst exploring the wider heritage site. The exhibition design maximises the shape of the long narrow building, reflecting the shape and appearance of a railway carriage. Overhead curved panels disperse light around the room and carriage style seating is integrated into displays featuring audio visual and objects.

Keen that the exhibition did not appear static, a sense of movement permeated the space through graphic design techniques blurring the periphery of images as though speeding past a carriage window. Animation was also used to effectively engage visitors with the railway’s historic timeline, capturing attention with statistics combined with archival imagery.