Firemen prepare to help at opening of Two Tunnels project in Bath
A group of former railway firemen are preparing for the grand opening of the final stage of the £4-million Two Tunnels project in Bath.
The men, who worked on the Somerset and Dorset trains, will be attending the opening festival next month and setting up a stand to talk about their experiences.
They will be displaying various artefacts from the railways, as well as playing sound recordings of the trains leaving Green Park Station and emerging from the tunnels.
The festival marks the opening of the walking and cycling route between south Bath and Midford, through two disused railway tunnels and over a viaduct.
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Firemen leader John Sawyer, who will be saying a few words at the opening, said he hoped visitors will be interested in hearing about the history of the railways.
He said: "Fourteen of us firemen will be there on the day, manning our display stall, witnessing the opening of the tunnels, helping to marshal the cyclists and available to tell our stories.
"Recognise us by our colourful Somerset and Dorset fireman badges."
The firemen also have lots of anecdotes about life on the railways, which they are looking forward to sharing with members of the public.
Two drivers from the last days of the Somerset and Dorset railway have been contacted and may be attending the festival.
Drivers were generally older than the firemen, who were mostly in their late teens and early 20s when the line closed in 1966.
Ken Coffin and George Tucker are both now 85 but are hoping to be in attendance.
The Two Tunnels Group is now looking for people keen to help with some final route preparations ahead of the opening day on April 6.
Volunteers will be working this weekend and next tidying up the space outside the north-western entrance to the Devonshire Tunnel where the opening formalities will take place, together with the unveiling of a portrait bench already installed there. Work will involve clearing the site of unwanted plant material, then new planting to improve the appearance of the embankment there.
The site can be reached either by following the Linear Park to the tunnel entrance or by walking from Bloomfield Road, across the Bloomfield Open Space where the free festival will take place.
Helpers are wanted this Sunday from 10.30am to 12.30pm for clearing the site, then on Saturday March 23 (10.00 am start) for the planting.
Volunteers should bring some appropriate footwear and gloves. Supervision and tools will be provided.
To make these two weekend mornings as effective as possible, volunteers should contact Two Tunnels Group member Andy Richman on 07770 962331 or Andrew.Richman@environment-agency.gov.uk for last-minute details.
The free Two Tunnels Festival will take place between 11am and 5pm on April 6, near the north entrance of the Devonshire Tunnel on the Bloomfield Open Space in Bear Flat. There will be stalls and music, with the official opening at noon.
It has been jointly organised by the campaign group, which has worked hard to make the route become a reality, and the cycling charity Sustrans, which carried out construction work.
â For live coverage of the festival go to www.thisisbath.co.uk