Off the Rails

‘Off the Rails’ is an art and poetry project based at Wivenhoe Railway Station, showcasing local creative talent and businesses from Wivenhoe and surrounding areas.

Wivenhoe attracts many visitors and residents because of its vibrant arts and literary scenes, and a large number of rail travellers use the station every week. Off the Rails aims to inspire people while they wait for their train or are just passing by.

What are the different parts of the project?

In the Ticket Office hall, you’ll find Words Down the Line, Books Down the Line and the Display Cabinets.

Words Down the Line

We will publish a poetry and prose leaflet on a quarterly basis for you to enjoy reading or to contribute. The leaflets disappear very quickly, and we are always fascinated to hear the journeys they have taken.

Books Down the Line

This is a book shelf containing free books for you to borrow on your journey. Bring us some new ones in exchange next time you visit the station.

Display Cabinets

Here we display 3D arts & crafts.

On platform 1, the train to London is the Poetry Cabinet. We show a poster featuring an illustrated poem to entertain travellers before their morning commute or inspire thoughts for the day.

On Platform 2 there’s the Crab and Winkle Gallery. We have three large poster-size display cabinets, which are viewable at a distance by passengers waiting on Platform 1 or travellers alighting on Platform 2. These contain prints or original works that are usually linked by some common theme.

Also part of the project is the Station Masters Garden. Originally a scrappy piece of unloved land next to the station, this charming fertile little garden was taken over by Off the Rails. Transition Town Wivenhoe volunteers originally planted out seasonal fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers, using permaculture techniques and nature-friendly approaches.

You can find out more about the history of Off the Rails on the original website.

Getting involved

If you would like to help in some way – big or small – we’d be very pleased to hear from you. Please email us at or contact us though our online form. You might like to:

  • Contribute illustrations, art and craft work, and writing
  • Let us have books to recycle
  • Help mount exhibitions and organise special events
  • Liaise with artists, groups and schools
  • Maintain the blog
  • Help in the Station garden
  • Give us feedback and ideas

We cannot promise to display or publish all pieces of work submitted to us, but we will acknowledge every contribution and keep it in mind for a possible future use.

Guidelines for art & craft submitting work to us

Every so often we will issue a call for artwork, but please get in touch with us if you have any ideas.

Here are the guidelines and specifications for the different parts of the project.

The Crab and Winkle Gallery on Platform 2

The 3 poster cabinets are 29’ x 40’ (62.5cm x 101.5cm) – between an A1 and A0 size – portrait direction. You can get prints done at the Essex University Copy Shop and they cost around £12-13 per print. You need to pay for these yourself.

Since they are mostly viewed from Platform 1, large bold designs work best. They might get damp, so prints will probably work best. We can recommend some good and low-priced printers to you.

The Ticket Office cabinets

The two cabinets are approximately 55.8cm x 75.4cm – landscape direction. They can take work up to a maximum of 4.5cm in depth. There is a plastic insert that can be used as a mounting board and measures 65.5cm by 45.5cm.

The cabinets are 10ft from the ground, so again need to be appreciated at a distance, albeit a more intimate one than the Crab and Winkle displays. Putting in a coloured backdrop will help the displays to stand out.

We can show textile and any other craft that will fit easily in the cabinets and look good at a distance. The pieces won’t be able to be advertised for sale, but we will put up a descriptor of the artist/craft person, should anybody want to contact them.

Platform 1 cabinet

We use this A1 poster for poetry or other writing, often linked to Platform 2 exhibitions.

Words Down the Line

We publish poems (no longer than 30 lines of Arial font size 11 and 45 characters per line) short stories and non-fiction (no longer than 60 lines of Arial font size 11 and 45 characters per line.)

There will be two more issues of the current format of WDTL before we relaunch in the autumn. There will be more information to follow on this.

Artists information

We ask artists and businesses to produce a simple statement about themselves and their work (about a third of an A4) and some photographs of their pieces to put on our website blog.

We will promote this post and therefore your work across social media and local press outlets.