Stories along a world changing line
Storylines is an artist-in-residence programme on board Northern train services between Bishop Auckland and Middlesbrough. The route follows the original Stockton & Darlington Railway, the world’s first locomotive-powered public railway which changed the way the world trades, travels and communicates.
In 2025, the North East will celebrate 200 years since the world’s first steam hauled passenger journey on a public railway: the Stockton & Darlington Railway.
To celebrate, over the next 3 years Citizen Songwriters will be commissioning poets, songwriters and theatre makers to capture the stories of everyday passenger travel, stories of old and stories of new.
Storylines is a partnership project between the Bishop Line Community Rail Partnership and Citizen Songwriters, and funded by Northern and Cross Country.
All the stories collected will be archived in an online collection as well as on The Story Train on the Weardale Railway. Some of these will inspire songs, poems, visual arts, plays and more!
You can share your own story using the hashtag #Storylines #SDR2025
@TheStoryTrain2025 (Instagram) or /TheStoryTrain & /BishopLineCRP (Facebook)
Photo credit: Rob Irish
Meet The Artists
Lizzie Lovejoy (Tees Women Poets) is a Darlo born writer and illustrator who loves stories. They have spent their whole life listening to people’s words, and now Lizzie translates local narratives into poems, pictures and performances. Working across the length of the region, from North Shields to Scarborough, Lizzie's home is their inspiration because the North is a tale worth telling and contains so many stories worth hearing.
Carmen Marcus (Tees Women Poets)
is a published author, poet, creative facilitator, and mentor. As the daughter of a Yorkshire fisherman and Irish chef her writing brings together the practical and the magical. Her debut novel HOW SAINTS DIE was published by Vintage in 2018, it won New Writing North’s Northern Promise Award and was long listed for the Desmond Elliott Prize. Daisy Johnson describes it as a ‘glorious, beautiful sea shanty of a book.’ Her poetry has been commissioned by BBC Radio, The Royal Festival Hall, Durham Book Festival and Apples and Snakes. She was named as a BBC Verb New Voice 2015. In August 2022 she was chosen as one of the Writer’s Guild of Great Britain’s recipients of the New Play Commission Scheme with her debut full length play AND THE EARTH OPENED UP UNDER HER.
Rowan McCabe is a poet and a professional waffler from Newcastle upon Tyne. Aware that poetry isn’t a proper job, he decided to create his own and became the world’s first Door-to-Door Poet. Knocking on strangers’ doors, he asks what is important to them. He then goes away and writes a poem about this, free of charge, before bringing it back and performing it on their doorstep. It’s sort of like the Avon lady… but with rhymes.
Rowan has also written for Channel 4, Radio 3’s ‘The Verb’ and his work has been featured in the Guardian and on BBC Breakfast. He has performed on stages around the UK, including Glastonbury Festival and the Royal Albert Hall. In 2022, the National Trust published a collection of his work in honor of William Wordsworth’s 250th birthday.
Sam Slatcher is an independent recording artist, singer-songwriter, and community arts facilitator. Passionate about working in community and encouraging storytelling, Sam’s work takes him across the North East to capture stories through music.
Sam’s work includes an EP In Unlikely Places that features the folk song ‘City of Sanctuary’ that has been listened to over 100,000 times on Facebook, and Stories of Sanctuary, a collaborative album with people seeking sanctuary in the North East and featuring viola player Raghad Haddad, from the National Syrian Orchestra. Sam performed 'Stories of Sanctuary' to a sold-out audience at Durham Cathedral in October 2018 and has since toured the album across the UK with a refugee choir.
Since 2019, Sam has been curating, directing, and facilitating songwriting workshops for various creative projects across the North East with Citizen Songwriters, a social enterprise Sam set up that brings people together through songwriting to create original songs about people’s stories and the places that matter to them.
Becci Sharrock is a writer, theatre maker and creative producer based in Gateshead. She is a Creative Associate of Unfolding Theatre, and her writing has been commissioned by Live Theatre, Queen's Hall, Hexham, The Maltings, Berwick, Alnwick Playhouse, Alphabetti Theatre and Made With Many amongst others. She has been the writer-in-residence at Beamish Museum, a joint winner of NETG's Best New Writing Award, longlisted for the Arch 468 Hope Prize and shortlisted for the Old Vic 12. Her debut theatre show, Letters to Myself, toured nationally and her recent adaption of The Secret Garden (co-written with Lisette Auton) toured to schools. community centres and theatre venues across the North East.
Alongside her writing she regularly facilitates workshops on creative writing, playwriting and producing, gives talks on her projects and artistic practice and has mentored and supported a number of emerging North East artists and companies.