|Taylor Woodrow Partnership Award||Dover Marine station [Port of Dover]|
|Great Western Railway Craft Skills Award||Tottenham Court Road [London Underground, Taylor Woodrow and BAM Nuttall]|
|The MTR Crossrail Award for Urban Heritage||Liverpool James Street station (Merseyrail Electrics 2002 Ltd]|
|Contractors Restoration Award||River Boyne Bridge, Drogheda (Iarnród Éireann]|
|The London UndergroundOperational Enhancement Award||Stoke-on-Trent station (Virgin Trains]|
|Supporters Award||Glyn Ceiriog [New Glyn Valley Tramway & Industrial Heritage Trust]|
|The Railway Heritage Trust Conservation Award||Corrour station (Network Railway Property]|
|Stagecoach Volunteers Award||Arley station [Severn Valley Railway plc]|
|Siemens Signalling Award||Kingscote signalbox [Bluebell Railway]|
|Best Entry in 2016 made in memory of Deborah Trebinski||King’s Cross Midland Goods Shed and eastside Handyside canopy [Kier Construction and King’s Cross Partnership]|
Review of the Year
Come May of each year there is a sense of anticipation (plus a little apprehension) among those of us who handle the entries for the Awards competition to see what will come in and indeed whether there is still sufficient support to make a competition. We need not have worried as with a total of 43 entries from all parts and sectors, and overwhelmingly of a high standard, we again have had a strong competition. As ever, the entries have been far flung, from remote Corrour in the western Highlands to Barnham, just inland from the South Coast, and from Southwold in NE Suffolk across to Loughor, beyond Swansea, and over the Irish Sea to Drogheda. Within the UK, Scotland contributed five entries and Wales three, with Northern Ireland adding one. Train operators and heritage railways joined Network Rail in dominating this year’s entries but far from exclusively as contractors, local councils, local railway friends’ groups and private firms all joined in. We are delighted by such a wideranging response to our annual call for projects to be entered for the Awards.
With eager anticipation we look out for redundant railway buildings being given a new lease of life, either while still on site or (this applies mainly to the tops of signal boxes) or having been laboriously moved to a new location. Several came our way this year, two from the north of Scotland. Corrour Station sits on the West Highland line midway between Rannoch and Tulloch stations but with no public tarmacadamed road for 17 miles passengers come by train or walk; now with support from the Corrour Estates the station buildings, including the integral signal box, have been developed into overnight accommodation. Less of a challenge for judging but remote enough on the Far North Line, the building at Tain Station has been developed as a restaurant and tea room with enthusiastic local support. A similar cafe project has transformed Saltcoates station in Ayrshire. Moving into England, the long disused tower on Ulverston station, once the gents, has been converted into the Cycle Hub and cafe while the former canopy from Oldham Mumps Station has largely migrated to platform 2 at Bury Bolton Street Station (sadly the cast iron supporting columns all failed NDT testing and needed replacing). Moving south to Leicestershire, at Mountsorrel two former industrial buildings have been conserved at the end of the old mineral branch line to create a community park and heritage centre. In London the huge Kings Cross Goods Yard complex redevelopment proceeds apace; the former Midland Railway Goods Shed has been sympathetically converted into a supermarket, events venue and cookery school. Further south still, the former Dover Marine Station was for many years the gateway to the Continent, until the coming of the Channel Tunnel. In its new guise as a cruise line terminal, the Port of Dover has undertaken substantial conservation work on this imposing building. Further along the coast two signal boxes have been on the move, from Brighton to form the new signal box and signalling installation on the Bluebell Railway at Kingscote, and at Barnham where the signal box structure, having survived a serious arson attack, has been rebuilt away from the railway as a community facility.
There have been some interesting new build entries. These have to be either as distinct replicas or in the style of other buildings on the line, such as the tourist information and toilet block beside the main station at Sheringham, or the M&GN-style signal box at Whitwell & Reepham. On the replica side, the signal box at Midsomer Norton has been rebuilt, complete with its distinctive windows, as has the wooden Keith Town Station in NE Scotland. Falling between the two are the level crossing gates, to NER design but as one gate a side rather than the original two, at Scruton Station on the Wensleydale Railway. On a smaller scale, but still involving much detailed background research, is the new war memorial at Manchester Piccadilly, replacing one that disappeared over fifty years ago.
Various stations have received substantial refurbishment, either to enhance passenger facilities, as with the West Side Buildings at Stoke-on-Trent, or to attract a tenant as at Newark Castle. High among these will be Manchester Victoria, with its distinctive new roof contrasting with the old L&YR facade, tiled map and mosaics. Talking of mosaics, the more modern ones by Eduardo Paolozzi, which have graced Tottenham Court Road Station for some thirty years, have been carefully taken down, conserved and relocated as part of the rebuilding works there for Crossrail. Another underground station receiving sympathetic refurbishment and enhancement of its heritage wall coverings is the busy James Street Station in Liverpool. Other works include heritage improvements at Arley Station, improvements to the booking hall at Battle Station, repairs to the island platform awning at Bewdley, highlighting the distinctive fanlight window at Buxton Station, re-arrangements and extensions at Hatfield Station, attention to the Parcels Office at Helsby Station, re-instating cafes and a waiting room at Leamington Spa and Taunton stations, and conservation work on Penkridge station building. Similar work on Pantyfinnon Station is incomplete so this project has been held over until next year.
Four bridges or viaducts were entered, all involving significant work in their own way to fit them for modern operational requirements. These include the lofty Boyne Viaduct at Drogheda in Ireland and the former Brunel-designed Loughor Viaduct near Llanelli in West Wales. Here the wooden trestles no longer carry the renewed spans but three have been left in place, and two more set up alongside, to illustrate this earlier mode of construction. At Lewes the Station Road bridge over the station has been repaired and at long last repainted while at Corbridge on the Newcastle & Carlisle line the distinctive station footbridge has been replaced with one in NER style. In Co. Antrim the railway-inspired Gobbins cliff path had to be withdrawn from entry because of a cliff fall. To round off this review of the entries, mention need to be made of the repainting of Chesham Signal Box, at one extremity of the London Underground system, and repairs to Carnforth Junction Signal Box by Morecambe Bay. In Mid Wales the old Glyn Valley Tramway engine shed at Glyn Ceiriog has been restored to its former use and on another nascent heritage railway scheme, at Southwold part of the original light railway’s trackside fencing has been repaired, as have two railway graves at Crewe. In Glasgow a shop front under the main railway bridge at Argyle Street has been replaced with one more in keeping with the railway ambience there. Finally, a project which has had to be held over until the waters subside is the former L&BR winding house vaults at Camden – we shall look forward to seeing these historic railway structures in due course.
As ever I have great pleasure in thanking our team of fifty judges who have travelled widely to assess each entry (this is done twice), and to our slightly re-ordered Panel of Adjudicators; their deliberations were made significantly easier by receiving digitally the full details of the judging and a wide selection of pictures beforehand. This Review has shown the great diversity of entries that we receive, and of our entrants; it is a pleasure to thank them once again, along with our on-going, incoming and out-going Sponsors for their continued support. Without any of these there would not be a competition.
Chairman of the Adjudicators