Network Rail Partnership Award Huddersfield Station Water Tower (Association of Community Rail Partnerships)
FirstGroup Craft Skills Award Monument Station (Monument Station Project)
Key Publishing Modern Railways Restoration Award West Offices, York (City of York Council, S. Harrison Developments Ltd, Buccleuch Property)
London Underground Operational Enhancement Award Crystal Palace Station
Supporters Award Cocoworks Coffee House — Inverurie Station (George Lawson)
Railway Heritage Trust Conservation Award Helen’s Bay Railway Station (Deborah Harper Make-up & Beauty)
Volunteers Award Festiniog Railway 1864 Milestone Restoration (Ffestiniog Railway Society)
Station Environment Award Loughborough Central Station (Great Central Railway)
Chairman’s Special Award King’s Cross Station Redevelopment (Network Rail, John McAslan & Partners, ARUP and Vinci Construction)
Ian Allan Publishing Award Ouseburn Viaduct Strengthening and Repair Works (Network Rail and Carillion)
Ian Allan Publishing Heritage Railway of the Year Mid-Norfolk Railway
Ian Allan Publishing Heritage Railway of the Decade Bluebell Railway

Review of the Year

Our 59 entries this year spanned the length and breadth of the British Isles, from Inverness-shire to Cornwall and from County Antrim via Snowdonia to Sussex. Ireland produced five entries, three to the South and two to the North, Scotland seven and Wales two, clear evidence if any were required that the appeal of the Awards is not confined to one area or sector. To expand this point, several entries came from private individuals or firms who have taken over part or all of a redundant railway structure while as usual local councils added their entries to those submitted by Network Rail, train operating companies, heritage railways and architects and contractors, showing that entries are welcome from wherever they come.

Equally size, cost or scope of the project is immaterial. Probably the greatest this year was the final completion of the huge undertaking at King’s Cross which has resulted in not just a total refurbishment of Lewis Cubitt’s simple but elegant original station and its accompanying East and West Offices but the enclosure of the dead space between the station and the Great Northern Hotel as a most welcome and distinctive concourse. The quoted cost was £640m. At the other end of the scale come the restored and replica slate milestones dating from 1864 on the Ffestiniog Railway, an exercise in conservation and detection as well as restoration, with a budget of perhaps £3,000. So the field is wide open and the Awards are made accordingly.

Five stations, in addition to King’s Cross above, came our way following pretty extensive refurbishment, some having suffered long years of neglect. These include Battersea Park, Deptford, and Crystal Palace in South London, the Art Deco Southern Railway station at Horsham, and in Ireland Sallins & Naas. In addition more limited works at a further six were entered: at Clapham Junction, Exeter St David’s, Keighley, Marylebone (Harewood Avenue entrance), Penzance and Truro. New works at Wakefield Kirkgate were offered as the first shots in a huge refurbishment project of this important but long neglected station while on a smaller scale initial works at Kirkby Stephen East have not only made the building secure and watertight but are beginning to restore its original attractive features.

A favourite new use for rooms within stations in recent years has been as coffee shops or bars, so that this year we have seen these installed at Crystal Palace Waiting Room, Dumbarton, Inverurie and Pollokshaws, where cycle hire is also possible. As a variant on the theme two old Taff Vale Railway carriage bodies have been joined together at Bronwydd Arms station, on the Gwili Railway, to form a cafe, library and store, while the very successful Sheffield Tap has further expanded its premises into the former first class dining room. Probably the most unusual retail development as far as the Awards is concerned is the refurbishment and conversion of Helen’s Bay station, on the outskirts of Bangor, Co. Down, as a beauty salon. A new waiting room has been inserted at Elsecar & Wentworth and another created at Whitecroft on the Dean Forest Railway.

Remaining with stations, among the small entries this year were the wrought iron gates at Glasgow Central, the very ornate drinking fountain at Pitlochry and the murals at Bray, still unfinished. Overhead the extensive platform canopy glazing at Loughborough Central was entered as was the re-ordered porte cochére at Leicester. The Station Hall at the National Railway Museum has been re-ordered while the entrance subway at Monument station, demolished by a bus, was reconstructed.

It is of course not just station buildings which find appropriate new uses. Two large water towers feature this year, that at Settle becoming a private residence, complete with conservatory in the former tank, while that at Huddersfield has become the new offices for ACoRP. The former station at York, long superseded by the present establishment over the road, has been refettled and considerably extended by inserting free standing new build into the space between the two wings to form the new West Offices for the City Council. George Stephenson’s workshop at Crich has been converted into the Discovery Learning Centre. Finally the station master’s house at Leatherhead has been restored.

Signal boxes were conspicuous by their comparative absence this year, with just two, both in northern Scotland, that at Kyle of Lochalsh being a replica of one burnt down; the other entry is the pair (East and West) at either end of Nairn’s long platform. Bridges however were plentiful, with station footbridges coming in from Chester, Dawlish and Dewsbury, this one being integral with the platform canopies, also restored. The fascia of the railway bridge over Battersea Park Road and bridge renewals over channels of the River Rother also came in, but all were dwarfed by the refurbished unique bascule Bann Bridge at Coleraine and the distinctive lattice viaduct at Ouseburn, north of Newcastle. Another civils project was the turntable at York, relocated from Ferme Park.

Some entries are deemed to be unfinished at the time of judging so in fairness we hold these over until either they are completed or more significant work is done. These include the stations at Old Meldrum, now at Crathies, Dundrum, Peckham Rye and Warmley. Also in this category are Stephenson’s statue at Newcastle and the former Kings Cross footbridge at Ropley. Five entries were also declined as they had appeared in last year’s competition and we cannot accept a re-entry unless more significant work has been done. (In passing it might be worth line managers checking whether this has been the case.) Two unusual entries were the Virtual Archive Online from Network Rail and the Settle-Carlisle Online Design Guide.

Observant readers might have noted the change in my designation. After twenty years of organising the judging I have passed that mantle over to Gavin Johns and Clive Baker. At the same time David Lawrence retired as Chairman of the panel of Adjudicators and I was invited to succeed him, which I am delighted to do. As will have been apparent from the foregoing our team of three dozen judges was kept busy all summer while our panel of Adjudicators had a long day deliberating in September. I thank them all and all our entrants. As always it is my pleasure too to thank our friends in the railway industry for their continued sponsorship and support. The Awards are in good shape and enjoy a strong standing within the railway industry.


Robin Leleux

Chairman of the Adjudicators

October 2013