Our new school building was opened in 2013 with four classrooms to facilitate the 80 children that attended school at that time. There were further rooms within the school that were purpose built to use as a library and IT suite with a DT room to facilitate space for the Art and DT curriculum.
Fast forward five years; pupil numbers had increased by almost 50% so space in school was at a premium and what was the library and IT suite had now changed into a classroom with the library now in the school corridor
We need more space was the cry …. How? was the reply ……
What about some decommissioned railway carriages and turn them into our new library and a wellbeing hub?
That’s a good idea, how do we do that?
We need to get some help from companies who would be willing to give of their time and resources to help us create these spaces, preferably as a social values contribution ….
There was no budget; we needed to apply for funding grants and fund raise within school.
Click on any of the thumbnails below to view as a slideshow:
The trains coming to school …
What a day that was!! All the children were dressed in fancy dress as a non uniform day and chanting “we want the train, we want the train..”
We are a region that is steeped in railway history. Locally to our school we have Shildon National Railway Museum, (the Locomotion). Hitachi Rail is based at Newton Aycliffe. Transport is taught as part of our national curriculum in school.
School made contact with a construction company and asked them for their help to clear the ground in readiness for the carriages. They also contacted some of their contractors to help with the project too. One of school’s governors works for a national railway company, we asked if they could help in laying train tracks for the carriages to sit on. Progress was being made in getting contractors on board to help with preparing the groundworks, getting pipes laid to run electricity cables through.
How are we going to get power to the carriages for heat and electricity?
We engaged with Climate Action North to help us fund raise for some Solar Panels. Our trains are self sufficient with solar energy created from the panels.
How will we get access to the trains?
We needed to separate the train carriages to conform to the Disability Act, making the carriages accessible for all. We separated the train carriages and created a platform which was created by Ivanhoe Forge. We were very happy with the design and included ‘D2D’ in the design to signpost which carriage was the library and which was the wellbeing.
Architects were engaged, drawings and designs were pulled together to create two spaces that would work for the school brief.
Stripout of the carriages …
The internal space for the carriages needed to be removed and we had the help of a team of staff from Hitachi – Newton Aycliffe. What a difference this made to see just the shell of the internal space ..
Internal vision of what we were looking to achieve …
As a starting point we needed to think about our vision for the internal space and we wanted to create a space where the children wanted to go to choose a book, dress up in the character of the book they are reading or even be the story teller and sit in a big chair and read their story to the children. We also wanted a nosey dinosaur who could listen to the excitement of the children in the library, well we certainly go one of those, his name is ‘SID’.
We needed to create a space where we can take children who may need some time out from the formality of the classroom and have 1-2-1 time. We also wanted to create some sensory space where our children can access sensory resources to their individual needs. Children sometimes need space where they can talk about their worries and anxieties and to share them with specialists and our own staff. Inside the wellbeing hub is a ‘worry chair’ and ‘Charlie bear’ just waiting ….
Finished Wellbeing Hub interior …
Working towards the finish and looking towards launching the Dare to Dream
Working through COVID lockdowns and the fallout from that in regard to the scarcity and increase in costs of materials; workforce and businesses struggling was challenging, but we never lost faith and were driven to create something special for our children.
Finished Library interior
We are finished …
After three years of planning, designing and constructing the project was launched on 22nd March 2023 by local children’s author Anne Fine. A great day for all those people who gave of their time and resources to the project.
Our children now have two incredible spaces. A library to build their love of reading and a well-being hub for us to keep mentally healthy!
We ‘dared to dream’ and look at what happened …..
The video was supported by Durham County Council who engaged with 3 Point Media to capture the launch.
Listen to what some of our children had to say about ‘D2D’ – (Dare to Dream)
One big THANK YOU …
One big thank you to everyone who contributed to the success of the Dare to Dream project, without you giving of your time, resources and help we would not have been able to create these spaces for the children of our school today but also in the future.
Adam Ryan, ISG, GCS Johnson, Network Rail, Kiernans, Dunwoodie Architects, Heras Fencing, Gavin Jones Landscaping, SAAP, National Lottery, Ivanhoe Forge, ADT, Hitachi Trains, Shildon National Railway Museum, Tescos, Freemasons, Rotary Club, AR Power, Climate Action North, Leo Electrics, MJF Group, NCS UK, Rotec Security, Stewart Signs, Rivtagalze, Cleanzone, DCC ITSS, L&D Interiors, Lynn Hoard Marigold Costumes, Ebac, Mark Walton, Sam Chatt, Gordon Callander and all family and friends of Kirk Merrington Primary School