Giant knitted Metro gets a Royal seal of approval

Prince Charles with the knitted Metro train
9 November 2021

A community group which joined forces to knit a special birthday tribute to the Tyne and Wear Metro has showcased their work for Prince Charles during his trip on the network earlier today.

The knitters, from North Tyneside, took up their needles and wool during lockdown to recreate a colourful 12ft Metro carriage – and their finished handywork got a big thumbs up from the heir to the throne.

Prince Charles was shown the woollen wonder at Central Station Metro concourse at the start of his visit to mark the 40th anniversary of Metro’s Royal opening.

The Prince chatted with two of the 30 volunteers from Whitley Bay Big Local, who spent many months creating all the individual parts of the knitted masterpiece, before it was carefully sewn together by local artist Kelly Sheridan and put on display at Tynemouth Metro station.

His Royal Highness spoke with Wendy Helps and Sue Grey from the Knit and Natter group to learn more about their fascinating community project and the effort it took to bring their knitted labour of love to fruition.
Wendy, of Whitley Bay said: “We were gobsmacked when we were invited by Nexus to meet Prince Charles, but so excited. He was very interested in our knitted Metro, and we chatted about the importance of activities like knitting for our mental health.” 

Sue, also from Whitley Bay said: “It has been a real honour to meet His Royal Highness. We started this as a lockdown project and can’t believe it’s brought us here. We talked about how it was different colours to represent different train liveries over the years and we presented His Royal Highness with a knitted Metro branded bauble, so hopefully that ends up on his Christmas tree!” 

The Knit and Natter group, who have been meeting up on Zoom during lockdown, were determined to make the project a success after they were approached by Nexus.

But it was going to be a huge undertaking so they enlisted the help of Barbara Lowe, a local knitting expert and owner of Ring-a-Rosie wool and crafts shop in Whitley Bay to create the pattern, order in the wool, and co-ordinate the allocation of packs to local knitters.

Over 30 local people collected packs to take home to create one of the many panels that would be joined to create the knitted Metro, complete with is iconic colour schemes and logo.

Local Artist Kelly Sheridan came into to pull the project together as part of Whitley Bay Big Local’s Creative Civic Change project. Kelly joined all of the panels together, backing them on felt and creating the lettering using a range of needlework techniques. Wendy Helps, another Whitley Bay Artist working with the Creative Civic Change project was drafted in to install the Metro and additional adornments in the station for the launch.

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