Cheshire is believed to be the only county in the UK that has Best Kept Railway Stations Awards, which are organised by volunteers to reward community adoption groups.
Sixteen stations managed by five different train operators won awards at the 17th Cheshire Best Kept Railway Stations Awards Evening held on Tuesday 28th January.
The awards were attended by Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Cheshire, and seventeen Mayors from the former County of Cheshire as well as rail industry representatives.
The Cheshire Best Kept Railway Stations Awards were presented in front of 160 guests at The Grange Theatre, Hartford, Northwich by Mr Kulvinder Bassi, Community Rail Team Leader from the Department of Transport.
Rose Hill Station in Marple, Stockport won the prestigious “Best Kept Station’ Award”, the first time the award has gone to a station in the metropolitan area of the county.
The “John Hobbs Award” was presented to Frodsham and Runcorn stations to mark the restoration of passenger services over the Halton Curve.
Meanwhile, Goostrey Station won the ACoRP Campaign Award for their work to have the nearly all wooden prefabricated station building preserved.
Handforth Station won the Morris Homes Community Award for the station’s Friends Group pushing for Access for All funding to provide step-free access.
Other Awards included those for the Best Kept Station in each borough, best large station, best-staffed station, best gardens and most improved station.
On top of all the awards, a framed print of Elizabeth Gaskell from the ‘Amazing Women by Rail’ series was presented to Sally Buttifant MBE to celebrate her ten years of service as Community Rail Officer for the Mid Cheshire Line.
Here is the full list of winners, and their owning train operators:
|Cheshire Best Kept Station Winner||Rose Hill||Northern|
|Cheshire West and Chester Award||Greenbank||Northern|
|Cheshire East Award||Sandbach||Northern|
|TfGM Award||Altrincham Interchange||TfGM / Northern|
|Wirral Award||West Kirby||Merseyrail|
|Halton and Warrington Award||Padgate||Northern|
|TravelWatch NorthWest Award for Large stations||Crewe||Avanti West Coast|
|Highly Commended||Warrington Bank Quay||Avanti West Coast|
|Northern Best Staffed Station Award||Marple||Northern|
|Best Kept Gardens Award||Hoylake||Merseyrail|
|Merseyrail In Bloom Award||Nantwich||Transport for Wales Rail|
|John Hobbs Award||Frodsham||Transport for Wales Rail|
|Runcorn||Avanti West Coast|
|Morris Homes Community Award||Handforth||Northern|
|Highly Commended||Holmes Chapel||Northern|
|Highly Commended||Heaton Chapel||Northern|
|ACoRP Campaign Award||Goostrey||Northern|
|Art Projects Award||Acton Bridge||London Northwestern Railway|
|Roberts Bakery Award for Most Improved station||Wrenbury||Transport for Wales Rail|
|Highly Commended||Alderley Edge||Northern|
What did the officials say?
On presenting the awards, Mr Bassi said:
“It has been a real privilege for me to present these awards which recognises the outstanding volunteer efforts of so many. Through their selfless efforts they have helped transform Cheshire’s railway stations, making them such welcoming gateways across the county. My thanks goes to you all”
On announcing the Awards, Mark Barker, Chair of Cheshire Best Kept Stations said:
“ Tonight’s Awards Evening is a celebration and a thank you for all the volunteers and community groups who do so much to brighten up our stations in Cheshire. You are all winners! – whether or not you pick up an award tonight, this is a big thank you to you all; a party for volunteers and for those who support & encourage you; rail industry, civic leaders and local authorities. You deserve it. We can celebrate something to be truly proud of at so many of our Cheshire stations. We have seen some truly excellent work from volunteers and staff at stations right across Cheshire.”
Friends of Rose Hill Station Chair Rachel Singer said:
“We are delighted that our station has been named the Best Kept Station in Cheshire 2019. Our warmest thanks go to Cheshire Best Kept Stations for this recognition of our efforts. We must acknowledge the efforts and support from all the volunteers and organisations in Marple, along with Northern, TfGM and all those in Community Rail who have helped us achieve this prestigious award. Special mention also to Tracy McGuinness-Kelly and ArtStop for leading the award winning mural project. Once again, we are proud of the Friends of Rose Hill Station’s continuing success.”
Ian Whitley, Publicity and Volunteer Officer of the North Cheshire Rail Users Group (NCRUG), said:
“What better way to celebrate North Cheshire Rail Users Group 30th Anniversary year by achieving what the group originally set out to do and that was to restore services over the Halton Curve from Chester to Liverpool Lime Street for the first time since May 1975. The John Hobbs Award is a fitting tribute to a well-respected member of the team who did so much to see services restored to the line. The group are incredibly proud and humbled to receive this award in his name. John passed away before the curve reopened but he knew the campaign had been successful and services were coming back. He leaves a wonderful legacy behind for future generations to enjoy.”
Andrew Backhouse, chair of The Friends of Handforth Station, said:
“The Friends of Handforth Station are delighted with their award but as ever, thanks are largely due to the whole community of people who have supported us in our successful Access for All bid. It’s the teamwork that counts!”
Craig Sidebotham, the chair of The Friends of Goostrey Station said:
“We are delighted to win the Campaign Award from Cheshire Best Kept Stations. The renovation of the former ticket office at Goostrey is the result of seven years of patient negotiation by FOGS members, in person and via email, with Network Rail, Northern and The Railway Heritage Trust. In the future, the restored building will provide opportunities for business and exhibitions.”
Northern was the Main Sponsor for the evening; Christopher Jackson, Regional Director for Northern, said:
“We were delighted to be the main sponsor of the Cheshire Best Kept Stations Awards for 2019. This event is a celebration of volunteers and the local railway community, who through their incredible skills, passion and hard work, help to brighten up stations across the county. As well as creating attractive and welcoming station environments, they are also enabling community groups to cultivate and develop their own unique talents.”
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