|Taylor Woodrow Partnership Award||Wickham Market station house [Station House Community Connection]|
|Great Western Railway Craft Skills Award||Huddersfield [Mykanada Ltd]|
|The MTR Crossrail Award for Urban Heritage||Cambridge station [Greater Anglia]|
|Contractors Restoration Award||Kirby Stephen East water tank and crane [Stainmore Rail Co Ltd]|
|The London Underground Operational Enhancement Award||Scruton [Wensleydale Railway Association Trust]|
|Supporters Award||Euston Lodges [Euston Tap Ltd]|
|The Railway Heritage Trust Conservation Award||Pantyffynnon [Network Rail]|
|Stagecoach Volunteers Award||Thrumster [Yarrows Heritage Trust]|
|Siemens Signalling Award||Horsted Keynes [Bluebell Railway] and Goathland/New Bridge [North Yorkshire Moors Railway]|
|Best Entry in 2017||Wemyss Bay [Network Rail Scotland]|
Review of the Year
We are walking up a steep lane through damp woods in Snowdonia. Then rounding a corner we come across a delightful small railway overbridge and while we are admiring the two-tone green cast iron balustrade a red double engine majestically crosses with its long train. We are left to note the maker’s name picked out in red: Boston Lodge Foundry 1854, for this is the Ffestiniog Railway’s overbridge below Tan y Bwlch station. Move now some two hundred miles north, to the Clyde Coast at Wemyss Bay where the magnificent station was built just over a century ago to cater for Glasgow crowds taking the sea air on the steamers to Bute and Rothesay. The glazed roof over the circular concourse, the platform canopies and the long sloping passageway down to the ships have all been restored to pristine condition.
These are just two of the 55 entries we received this year and illustrate their wide variety.
Of these 55 entries, ten emanated from Scotland, three from Wales and one from the Isle of Man; nothing from Ireland, North or South, this year. As we expect, most of the entries came from train operators, Network Rail, contractors and heritage railways, but also strongly represented were community groups (9 entries) including local councils, and private individuals (7) including one lady making her second entry with another project. Whereas the former group are mostly refurbishing or restoring operational structures, the latter group are mostly taking redundant railway buildings and sensitively converting them to other uses, something we heartily endorse.
These spanned the country, from Suffolk to Caithness. Wickham Market station lies unmanned on the East Suffolk line, actually in nearby Campsea Ashe. The Station House Community Connection took over the building, long out of railway use, to provide a much needed community asset and as part of its refurbishment re-instated the long- demolished platform canopy. Now moving over four hundred miles north to Thrumster, this tiny station lies on the east Caithness coast some four miles south of Wick, almost the furthest north one can get by train in the UK. Its branch line to Lybster closed as long ago as 1944 after which Thrumster station saw a variety of uses before the Yarrows Heritage Trust restored it as a valuable community asset.
Other community bodies restoring the whole or parts of railway buildings for their use included Aberdour Community Council at Aberdour station and Tetbury Rail Lands Regeneration Trust with Tetbury goods shed. Abellio ScotRail repaired and refurbished parts of Kilmarnock station for the growing Community Village there while the Cricklewood Town Team worked with Govia Thameslink to improve the rundown station access. In Yorkshire the Friends of the Settle – Carlisle Line created a new stone waiting room on the up platform at Settle, much needed in inclement weather when the main station building is closed, while in Hull the Civic Society set about properly re- erecting the fallen tombstone to Edward Booth, a NER locomotive fireman killed in a crash in fog in 1906. The stone bears a good carved image of his locomotive. Finally Worcestershire County Council worked with Network Rail to produce a new heritage-style station at Malvern Link, replacing the dilapidated former buildings.
Bars, Coffee Shops and Individuals
Several of these were entered this year, including at Carlisle by 301 Miles from London, Coatbridge by the Sunnyside Coffee Company, Doncaster by the Draughtsman Alehouse Ltd, Huddersfield, the Kings Head, by Mykanada Ltd., and Roydon by Just … at the station. Their common feature was the installation of attractive bars, cafes or a restaurant into hitherto underused, often derelict, parts of the station, so bringing new life to them. Outside Euston Station, Euston Tap Ltd reinstated the heritage windows in the Victorian East and West Lodges. Finally at Aberdour Mrs Lynette Gray has re- entered the awards, this time with her sensitive conversion of the former stone signal box into an art studio.
Stations whole or in part
Good roofs, canopies and porches are essential and many of varying sizes and complexity graced the entry lists. On the South Coast, the extensive and complex canopies over the platforms and concourse at Lewes were threatened with demolition not so long ago; refurbished by BAM Nuttall Ltd. they are an ornament to the railway and town. Smaller in scale is the restored LB&SCR entrance porch at Sheffield Park (Bluebell Railway), followed by the lengthy porte cochère at London Victoria, again refurbished by BAM Nuttall Ltd. In the Midlands, distinctive Stamford station has had its platform canopy replaced while the roof, with its local Collyweston stone slates, was thoroughly refurbished, care being taken not to break any as the quarry has long closed! From the same Network Rail stable came the extensive refurbishment of the slate roofs at Lincoln station, while Virgin Trains East Coast undertook similar thorough work at Berwick-upon-Tweed station. Back in Scotland, Wemyss Bay (Network Rail Scotland) has already been noted, while the extensive canopies at Stirling (Story Contracting) are another fine project. We would love to see work elsewhere on this great station completed to allow full judging and appreciation.
Repairs and refurbishment works are widely done by Train Operating Companies. A newcomer to these lists is Greater Anglia who has completed major enhancement work at Cambridge station in restoring the 32 distinctive college, university and city heraldic roundels which grace the exterior of Francis Thompson’s 1845 building, and covering up (and removing redundant) cabling on the platform face, something we have been pressing for throughout the system for many years. Its other significant entries were at Ingatestone station and Bury St Edmunds station; we shall look at the latter again when work is further advanced. South Eastern also entered four with important work done at Canterbury West, Margate, Ramsgate and Snodland stations, while Great Western Railway came in with booking office enhancements in its heritage stations at Bradford-on-Avon and Stroud. Govia Thameslink added to its entries with further works completed at Downham Market and Leatherhead stations, while Transport for London offered the restored York Mews entrance at Ilford station. Network Rail completes this section with final refurbishment works at North Queensferry and Pantyffynnon stations and wall heightening at Linlithgow; its entry of Knaresborough station has been held over until 2018 to allow work to be completed. We also await completion of some work on Peckham Rye station, an on-going major restoration project by the Peckham Society.
From the heritage railways came new works: the building of the tiny GWR-style halt at Hayles Abbey (Gloucester Warwickshire Steam Railway) and the raised platform extension to North Eastern Railway plans at Scruton (Wensleydale Railway). Judges felt that Robertsbridge Junction station (Rother Valley railway) needed to be further advanced to allow full assessment. Refurbishment at Douglas by Isle of Man Transport included insertion of a mezzanine floor.
Our usual clutch of footbridges included those at Llanfair PG (Network Rail) and Bridge of Dun, whither Story Contracting had removed the listed structure from Dunblane. At North Dulwich station BAM Nuttall Ltd replaced the stair cases in their original style. Tan y Bwlch bridge has already been mentioned. Turning to signalling, at Horsted Keynes (Bluebell Railway) signalling for the revised station layout includes provision for the Ardingly branch extension, while operational
flexibility over the long section between New Bridge (Pickering) and Goathland encouraged the NYM Railway to use a HD/Link between traditional Electric Token Block instruments via broadband, thus combining modern with heritage. London Underground contributed to the signalling entries with its handsome restoration of the former Metropolitan Railway (non-operational) signal cabins at Chorleywood and Ruislip. At Kirkby Stephen East the Stainmore Railway has gathered a tank and parts for a water crane to supply its locomotives. Finally the boiler house chimney serving the Thames Tunnel had long disappeared when it was replaced in the 1990s; it has now been repainted, forming a prominent local landmark.
We thank our forty judges who have travelled to the four corners of the country plus the Isle of Man, and the adjudicators who again laboured long to digest the judges’ reports and pictures to come up with the short list and winners. Our thanks too, as always to the many entrants.
Chairman of the adjudicators