Sheffield theatre company joins forces with students to uncover stories about the city’s railway

Students at a Norton Lees secondary school have partnered with a local theatre company and East Midlands Railway (EMR) to celebrate the history of Sheffield’s railway.

Newfield School students have been tasked with creating and performing audio dramas based on historical resources and archive materials about the railway. 

They have uncovered these stories with the help of Paul and Gertie Whitfield, creative practitioners of Whitworks Adventures in Theatre, also based in Norton Lees.

This project aims to connect Sheffield’s past to its present, teaching the wider community about its history whilst also giving young people the chance to gain valuable practical skills.

Paul Whitfield, 61, said: “I think there’s something really powerful about connecting back to what happened in your past and being able to see where things have come from and what influenced where we are today.

“They’re [Newfield students] really excited by doing it, the enthusiasm they’ve got for uncovering stuff has been great.”

The idea for the project first came about due to the EMR Community Fund which was discovered by Whitworks. This prompted the research into the possibility of a project on the history of the railway and a partnership with the school.  

Most of the contributors are students in years seven and eight from Newfield. These pupils have worked on researching the real history of the passengers, workers and the railway line from London to Sheffield. 

One such story discovered by students is the diamond robbery of local business H.L. Brown in 1907. The criminal fled through Sheffield station and showed the diamonds to his friends on the train.

The business still operates in Sheffield today and this project has uncovered more about the robbery that was not common knowledge before.

Donna Lee, Assistant Head of Newfield, told Whitworks Adventures in Theatre: “We are excited to be hosting such a fantastic project and can’t wait to see these stories come to life.”

Whitworks offers writing, researching and recording sessions which are free and open to students and community members after school at Newfield on Mondays and Thursdays until the end of March. 

These audio dramas will last up to five minutes and will be available through www.watheatre.co or https://www.newfield.sheffield.sch.uk

Anyone who wishes to contribute to this project can get in touch via whitfieldgertie@gmail.com 

Written by Kiera Macey

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