Pacer has new life at special educational needs school

Porterbrook was proud to be there for the opening of the donated Class 144 Pacer train on Tuesday 11th July which has recently been converted into a library and STEAM classroom.

Porterbrook had donated a two-car Class 144 Pacer Train to The Dales School at Blythe in Northumberland in 2021. This primary school, located in Blythdale and Ashington, works alongside pupils who have special educational needs or disabilities. Over the past couple of years, the donated train has been converted into a "Reading Together Library" which supports students reading experience within the school.

"Everyone at The Dales School is delighted that our train is finally ready to share with everyone. The train has carriages devoted to reading and the new STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths) carriage is now ready for passengers," said Dr Sue Fisher, Dales School Headteacher.

"We want to thank all the businesses, funders, staff and organisations that have helped us get here. We could not have done this without their fantastic generosity, hard work and support. The children at The Dales School, and beyond, will benefit so much and we hope they will remain Friends of The Dales for many years to come."

The conversion project has been featured on George's Amazing Spaces TV programme. The carriages have allowed over half the students at The Dales School to board a real train for the first time, teaching independent train travel and railway safety.

The Class 144 Pacer project has been supported by Network Rail have allowed the train to be waterproofed, while workers from Northern Rails Heaton Depot also helped make the cab functional, including a railway crossing, working headlights and buttons. A station office was created by Wickes and Blythe Man Shed.

Kevin Eley, Head of Asset Protection and Infrastructure Development at Porterbrook, said: "it's been a pleasure supporting this project and seeing one of our retired trains get a new lease on life. We hope that this Pacer train has many more years of life as a tool to engage, educate and inspire young people."

Glen Saunderson, Leader of Northumberland County Council, said: "I so enjoyed visiting The Dales School with all the imagination and creativity of having a real train in a playground. I was very pleased to be asked back. Well done to everyone involved- a great example of thinking "outside the box" for the benefit of students."