Winners 2011:

The HS1 Station Environment Award: Liverpool Lime Street Gateway [Liverpool Vision]
The FirstGroup Skills Award: Darlington and Newcastle Stations [East Coast Main Line]
The National Rail Heritage Awards Volunteers Award: Bronwydd Arms [Gwili Railway Company]
The London Underground Accessibility Award: Bury Transport Museum [East Lancashire Railway]
The Modern Railways Restoration Award: Tavistock Old Railway Station [Jenny and Colin Rogers]
The Network Rail Partnership Award: Middlesborough [First Transpennine Express]
The Railway Heritage Trust Conservation Award: Leamington Spa [Chiltern Railways]
The National Rail Heritage Awards Signalling Award
– structures Kirkham Abbey [Network Rail and Construction Marine Ltd]
– signalling Corfe Castle [Swanage Railway Trust]
The Ian Allan Publishing Award: Derby Roundhouse [Derby Collcge and Maber Architects

Review of the Year 2011

It is a point which we have often raised before in these Reviews that buildings need a proper purpose if they are to live, or even survive. This is particularly apposite to structures which have been rescued from dereliction as a restoration project, as well as those in everyday use which have been refurbished. A sensible and appropriate use coupled to a proper maintenance regime are essential for a building’s long term health. In the Awards we are familiar with the results of neglect and inadequate maintenance as well as the often startling results which follow from a properly planned and executed restoration, refurbishment or conversion scheme.

Conversions figure prominently in this year’s most pleasing tally of 56 entries, and range in size from the lowly snowhuts at Dent station, formerly a bothy for permanent way lenghmen at this bleak location and now transformed into two cottages for holiday let, to the conversion of the whole site of the erstwhile Midland Railway locomotive and carriage works and sheds into the Roundhouse Campus for Derby College, one of the largest and busiest further education colleges in the country. In between, and still further afield geographically, are the old Tavistock Station in North Devon, now more holiday cottages, and the former Horsebridge Station, on the long-gone Romsey – Andover line in Hampshire, now a tea room. At Bury the East Lancashire Railway has converted the former 1840s goods shed into its Transport Museum, the old Great Central goods office building at Loughborough has become the new Great Central Railway’s main offices as Lovatt House, while at Sleaford Station the local council have overseen the conversion of part of the redundant buildings into a Business Centre. There was a similar project at Sandown on the Isle of Wight line, sadly as yet without tenants, while not far away at Rowlands Castle Station the house has been rescued from dereliction for letting. In Wales community involvement has turned long disused buildings at Llandovery Station into a smart café and waiting area and at Borth Station into a local museum. Nearer to Welshpool the station and signal box at Forden have been restored privately.

Some restoration projects involve moving the building for some distance, but rarely as far as the former Tetbury signal box from Gloucestershire which became redundant in 1926 and became a potting shed; following its rescue, its rebuilding took place near Chesterfield. Also on the move was the large signal box from Bognor, but only along the line to Barnham. Sadly as restoration was well under way, an arson attack gutted the ground floor and this entry has had to be held over until next year. In East Anglia Network Rail moved the large signal box at Wroxham back by six metres for sighting purposes which allowed a local trust to take over and restore it. A similar group has taken over the distinctive ex-M&GNR signal box at Cromer, but being of concrete construction, this remains where originally built!

There has been much activity on the signalling front. Network Rail’s refurbishment programme has brought in two fine signal boxes, at Kirkam Abbey on the Scarborough line, and Kirton Lime Sidings, one of the loftiest wooden structures remaining on the system, in North Lincolnshire. On the heritage railways, fine signalling schemes, all involving new or removed structures, were entered at Alton, on the Mid Hants Railway, at Bodmin General on the Bodmin & Wadebridge Railway and at Corfe Castle on the Swanage Railway. The level crossing gates were replaced by substantial new GWR-style single gates at Bronwydd Arms on the Gwili Railway and M&GNR-style gates have been erected by the North Norfolk Railway at Sheringham.

A substantial amount of good work which has been done on stations throughout the country in both the public and heritage sectors. Again this extends from major works, such as on the roof at Victoria (Eastern) and Span 4 at Paddington, to replacement heritage fencing at Darlington and Newcastle Central Stations. In between, both in size and geographically, are station refurbishment works, often including better access for the disabled, at Aldgate EastPurley and Southfields in the London area, at Alton (Hampshire), MiddlesbroughNewton-le-Willows(Lancashire) and Whaley Bridge (Derbyshire), reviving the platform 2 buildingsat Stoke-on-Trent to provide a new entrance to the station, on the island platformat Chester, on the waiting rooms at Leamington Spa, in the Costa Coffee Lounge at Lancaster, on the concourse roof at Doncaster, a lowerable booking office counter at Girvan, outside Glasgow, to the footbridge and platform canopyat Halifax, to the toilets at Weybourne on the North Norfolk Railway, a long-awaited platform canopy at Ramsbottom (East Lancashire Railway) and extending the range of buildings on the up platform at Sheffield Park on the Bluebell Railway. The Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway in Cumbria built themselves a new station block to match their existing station at Haverthwaite, while the Spa Valley Railway have refurbished their station at Eridge, near Tunbridge Wells, in conjunction with  Southern, together with the first mile of their new line.

Nor is the station or railway environment left out. Chief among these works is the opening up of the frontage and access at Lime Street Station, Liverpool, especially with the demolition of a 1960s tower block and shops, as Lime Street Gateway. Again at the other end of the scale the Mid Hants Railway have recreated alongside their line traditional advertising signs for Strongs (an erstwhile local brewery) and Southern Electric, while in Ireland IE are replacing the murals on Bray Station with mosaics, a project which was still under way at the time of judging. Two entries came from Malvern, with the repair (and replacement) of the traditional cast iron lamp standards outside Great Malvern Station, and new traditional running-in boards at Malvern Link.

One bridge was entered this year, the 1860 Bridge at Mountsorrel in Leicestershire. Two more entries came from Derby, the Midland Road War Memorial, repaired and restored after serious theft and vandalism, and the original station buildings by the present station, another project incomplete at the time of judging and so left until next year. Outside Paddington the distinctive GWR offices of Enterprise House have been refurbished for further use. Again at the other end of the scale, the lamp hut from Whetstone has been restored as an adjunct to the signal box at Rothley station on the Great Central Railway after forty years as a garden shed.

As always it is my pleasure to thank our friends in the railway industry for their continued sponsorship and support, my team of three dozen judges who enthusiastically ensure each entry is visited twice, and the panel of Adjudicators who spend a long meeting deliberating on the entries and suitable Awards. All three make the annual Awards competition possible and with the status it has achieved within the railway industry.

Robin Leleux
Chairman of the Judges   October 2011