Thursday, September 16, 2010
FORTY five years after it was last in use, Wheathampstead Railway Station platform has been refurbished and opened on Sunday to mark its 150th anniversary.
Until last year the platform and rail bed were overgrown with ivy and sycamore and had been all-but forgotten. But a team of volunteers set about transforming it and, as part of the district’s Heritage Open Days at the weekend, villagers and visitors had a first chance to look around.
In a special celebration for local residents and volunteers involved in the restoration on Sunday, the platform was opened by villager Brenda Dawes, whose husband Dickie was a well-known Wheathampstead train driver. Guests issued with specially-printed platform tickets, climbed the new steps created by parish councillor John Burgess to see two enormous replica Wheathampstead signs crafted by Terry Pankhurst whose great grandfather had a near-fatal accident just a few miles from the station when he was driving a passenger train in 1875.
The line first opened in 1860 and shut down in 1965 and as well as shared nostalgia on the day, a display of extensive memorabilia and photographs was put on by local historians.
St Albans Mayor, Cllr Maxine Crawley, presented prizes to local children Frances Copp and Amy Lewis who won a poster competition to commemorate the occasion and praised the work of the volunteers.
“Very few people realised the remains of the old platform were here, totally overgrown. It’s simply amazing and what you have all achieved is remarkable,” she said.
The station is owned and managed by Wheathampstead parish council and will form one of the sites on the new Heritage Trail around the village that has received Local Strategic Partnership funding.
District and parish councillor and chair of the Heritage Trail action group, Cllr Annie Brewster, said: “This is exactly the type of community project our village loves to do. Over 50 people gave their time and skill to achieve this spectacular transformation.”