Gear up for trAction Crewe

Destination Crewe is a slow-burner, but it’s on track thanks to Crewe Town Council’s July offering – trAction Crewe, that comes with some serious backing from heavy and hi-tech industry.

Across Saturday 9th to Monday 11th July there is an impressive range of activities taking place in the heart of Crewe town centre, all very accessible and mostly FREE!

It’s all part of a steady plan to give Crewe an annual calendar of attractions to bring folk into the town, and also create a real sense of pride for the people who already live here.

More on the trAction Crewe weekend in a minute…

Following the creation of Cheshire East as a unitary authority, and the subsequent demise of the old Crewe and Nantwich Borough Council, many feared that Crewe would not be properly represented. That was addressed in 2013 when the town council became reality.

Since then some have scoffed, asking what the local team actually do with their slice of our council tax £s and whether they are in any way effective.

For over a decade I’ve poked my nose into the local political framework, not because I harbour desires to join the decision makers but because I’m keen to see the area served by people who care and, ultimately, make positive changes that improve Crewe in general.

My thoughts to date: those involved with CTC give 100%, and while there’s plenty of room for improvement they mean well and they do what’s best for Crewe. They get my thumbs up.

It was a modest start, but they were finding their feet. There was much to negotiate with Cheshire East, sorting out priorities and responsibilities. Then things started to happen.

We’ve all seen the new signs that mark the town’s boundaries. Not much, but a nice touch and we are starting to see an identity for Crewe taking shape. Companies are prepared to get involved with modest sponsorship, and if local businesses and organisations are happy to form such partnerships and associations then things must be moving in the right direction.

Market Hall, July 07

The indoor and outdoor markets remain a bone of contention, but discussions are (I believe) taking place that might see the town council eventually assume control of those vital areas of public space. That would be a positive move, as each town under CEC’s control is unique and those identities should be allowed to flourish away from a generic authority.

Quite what the future holds for the markets is unclear, as social and economic changes continue to threaten their very being. They (market traders), we (the voters) and the council need to adapt and find the best fit for an evolving town.

Crewe Steampunk Convivial (3) wThen there is the Crewe Steampunk Convivial that was staged at the end of May. It was a shot in the dark, driven by the guys at the town council in partnership with David Smith (pictured, on the right). A string of fabulous events, acts and experiences were accessible around the town’s core – all largely free. I’d like to think that we’ll see that festival grow such that Crewe becomes a Steampunk hub for fans of the genre from across the country.

And so to trAction…

What’s planned is very ambitious with a massive spread of activities scheduled across the July weekend; perhaps too vast in its first year, but yet another attempt to give the town’s people something exciting, interactive and affordable.

The trAction Crewe festival sets out to celebrate Crewe’s role in the railway industry, science and other engineering activities. And why not! Crewe has an amazing history for the manufacture of locomotives, rolling stock and of course automobiles. Okay, so things have changed, but there is still an impressive range of small, medium and large companies operating across the town in those sectors, and much more.

The trAction Crewe events will open eyes, give youngsters a taste of what has been and what can be if everyone pulls together. And when you look at the companies and organisations on board it’s apparent that investing time, effort, office new-builds, colleges and, ultimately, jobs in Crewe is a commitment that they are all prepared to make.

For the record, amongst many others, Bentley Motors, Virgin Trains, Manchester Metropolitan University, Whitby Morrison, Mornflake and Cheshire East Council have pledged their support. Not too shabby.

Free events will take place around Market Square, Queensway (by M&S and BHS), Victoria Square (near WH Smith), and Lyceum Square, with modest admission fees charged for entry into the Heritage Centre – well worth it, btw, as they have plenty to see and do aside from the vehicles that will roll up especially for the Transport Festival weekend.

The Saturday and Sunday timetables promise something for everyone. The shows, exhibitions, activities and drop-in sessions start late morning and continue through to late afternoon (check all of the times HERE).

trAction locations, 2016

There’s some edu-tainment on Victoria Square (dubbed Science Square for the weekend) where you can learn about science and sound; check out the giant and very mesmerising pendulum wave machine on Memorial Square (opposite the town hall); design a futuristic car at the library (spaces limited); visit the Christian Concern bike re-use shop on Queensway for cycle maintenance tips; and you can also switch on ‘The Bulb’ and see if your business idea has legs. Go on, dare you!

And there’s more… how about go-karting on Market Square (Sunday), or see a Bentley up close and personal as part of the UTC (University Technical College) stand; you can even build some 3D designs using the Minecraft game! Oh, and why not wonder at the ice-cream vans on display at Lyceum Square, showcasing vehicles manufactured at Crewe since 1962. There might even be ice-cream!

e Whitby Morrison, October 09 s

Me, well, I’ll be joining the creative writing workshop at the Lyceum Theatre on the Saturday afternoon, before a few late afternoon craft beers at Hops Belgian Bar… well, you sometimes need to help those creative juices flow!

And finally, on the Monday afternoon (4.30-5.30pm) there’s a reading session and some balloon modelling for 5-11 year olds in the junior section of the library, now situated at the new Lifestyle Centre by Christ Church.

For those who are often left wondering what to do, especially when there are kids to consider, the Crewe trAction festival ticks so many boxes. Walk into town if you can, park up and grab a couple of hours and then do that weekly shop, or hop on one of the buses that all converge on the town’s core. Check out a few of the exhibitors, browse the market stalls and relax with a drink at one of the many coffee shops (local and national) that are now dotted all around the centre.

You can check out more details about the trAction Crewe events on the official website HERE.

As ever, embrace it, enjoy it and tell others about it. When people support such ventures they grow, and that will benefit everyone.

Crewe can and will become a genuine destination, not just a rail interchange. #Believe


  1. David Kevin Smith

    Crewe Town Council were bold and brave in backing the Crewe Steampunk Convivial, something completely new and untried for the town. Blessed by glorious weather, the event exceeded all expectations and ticked every box. It has the potential to become the largest Steampunk festival in the region if not the country over the next few years, because it is such a pefect fit with Crewe’s heritage and raison d’etre – AND because Crewe made all of the performers and participants so welcome. Many thanks for that, we are looking forward to returning!


  2. Jules Hornbrook

    It was a brave decision, and the budget for the Crewe Steampunk Convivial was modest compared to other events funded around Cheshire. Having festivals operate in the heart of a town is definitely the way forward, largely free to increase footfall with a few paid for shows to offset some of the costs. Public and private partnerships.


  3. Mhairi Gordon-Preston

    So glad to have found your new-to-me blog Jules. And I love #Believe – your writing is very inspiring… why the heck shouldn’t we dare to dream, and demand, and pitch-in, for bigger and better things. Thank you.
    PS: yes, kudos to CTC for the Steampunk festival. It’s a growing co-culture and Crewe is being far-sighted by getting something started now. It’s not my cup of tea, but I was really excited to see it was happening: Creative Crewe, Co-operative Crewe, Cheerful Crewe 🙂


  4. CareerCoachMhairi

    Why the heck shouldn’t we dare to dream of, and demand, and pitch-in for, bigger and better things. Thank you.
    So glad to have found your new-to-me blog Jules. And I love #Believe – your writing is inspiring.
    PS: yes, kudos to CTC for the Steampunk festival. It’s a growing co-culture and Crewe is being far-sighted by getting something started now. It’s not my cup of tea, but I was really excited to see it was happening: Creative Crewe, Co-operative Crewe, Cheerful Crewe:-)


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