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Posted 15 February 2023

Tramway Tales Project

RCN Blog

Tramway Tales Project By the Rural Housing Association

Written by Ruth Buchanan

Artwork by pupil from St. Eugene’s Primary School & Edwards Primary School

The Tramway Tales project, led by the Rural Housing Association, is an intergenerational project working with adults and children in Sion Mills, Victoria Bridge and Castlederg, three villages in West Tyrone. The project aims to explore heritage connected to the local area, helping increase participants’ knowledge and understanding of their own local history and how it connects these three rural communities. The project brings to life the story of the tramway, which connected the rural towns and villages of Castlederg, Spamount, Crew and Fyfin to Victoria Bridge.  The tramway was in existence from 1883 until 1933.

The aim of this project was to use a community-led approach to uncover stories linked to the tramway and transform these stories into a children’s book, creating opportunities for local children to engage with, and better understand heritage using age-appropriate stories.


Artwork by pupil from St. Eugene’s Primary School & Edwards Primary School

Recollections of the tramway have almost disappeared completely, given the time that has elapsed since it closed in 1934.  Most of the current residents within Sion Mills, Victoria Bridge and Castlederg are too young to hold any living memory of the tramway and many of the younger generation have little knowledge that a tramway ever existed.

The tramway was at the epicentre of village life in Victoria Bridge and Castlederg and provided an important connection between local towns and villages within the area.  The stories of local people connected to the tramway are an important part of the heritage of these local communities and it is important to take steps to preserve these stories for future generations.

In the initial stages of project delivery, a historian and drama facilitator worked with adults from Sion Mills Community Forum to deliver a series of historical sessions, researching stories from the tramway and the villagers connected to the tram.

Following the adult workshops, local children from St Eugene’s Primary School and Edwards Primary School, Castlederg worked with a historian and illustrator to transform the stories unearthed during the research workshops into an illustrated children’s book.  By transforming the historical research into a children’s book, it ensures there is a child-appropriate record of heritage tales connected to the tramway, conserving these stories for future generations.

The preservation of the rural heritage of Victoria Bridge, Sion Mills and Castlederg through the production of a children’s story book was the highlight of the project as it opened up the history of the area to both older adults and local children. Through the production of the children’s book, we were able to preserve the heritage of the Tramway for future generations who will have access to both digital and paper copies of the book.

Image from Tramway Tales by Andrew William Tinney

Feedback from the local communities of Castlederg, Sion Mills and Victoria Bridge indicated that there was a real interest in running further projects to explore the heritage of the area.  Participants liked the intergenerational approach to heritage, which was new to these communities, and it was evident following completion of the project that all three communities would be keen to explore other areas of heritage in their area.

Textile wall hanging by Sion Mills Community Forum

Following completion of the project, Rural Housing Association will continue to work with these rural communities to develop further projects, which will continue to engage all generations in heritage within the local area.

This project was funded by the ‘Ours to Share’ grant programme. The Rural Community Network has funded 20 rural community projects over the last two years. A diverse range of projects celebrating and exploring the rural heritage of Northern Ireland and its communities.