Sailors from HMS St Albans uncover a piece of railway history

PUBLISHED: 15:09 24 November 2009 | UPDATED: 14:41 06 May 2010

Mayor Cllr Chris Oxley with members of the crew

Mayor Cllr Chris Oxley with members of the crew

SAILORS from HMS St Albans swapped their navigation systems for shears to help uncover an old village railway station platform. The crew, who were made freemen of the city in 2004, volunteered to assist with some community work and St Albans Mayor, Cllr C

SAILORS from HMS St Albans swapped their navigation systems for shears to help uncover an old village railway station platform.

The crew, who were made freemen of the city in 2004, volunteered to assist with some community work and St Albans Mayor, Cllr Chris Oxley, found them the perfect projects.

Five of the sailors joined forces with volunteers from the Countryside Management Service (CMS) and Wheathampstead for Enterprising Businesses (WEB) to cut back trees and clear the ivy and leaves which have built up since its closure 44 years ago.

It continued earlier work carried out by volunteers including the Wheathampstead and District Preservation Society.

The single track railway, which originally formed part of the Hatfield to Luton and Leighton Buzzard GNR railway, first opened in September 1860 and it formed the lifeblood of the village for over 100 years. Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw regularly walked from his home in Ayot St Lawrence to use the line.

The project group is working to restore the platform and open it to the community as part of the Wheathampstead Heritage Trail by its 150th anniversary next year.

It is hoped that the feature will attract tourists and visitors, and may even become a potential site for a village museum.

Cllr Annie Brewster, vice chairman of Wheathampstead Parish Council, said: "The old railway platform is an important part of our village heritage and we envisage it being used as a picnic area, an outdoor classroom and even a venue for alfresco exhibitions.

"It will be one of the major attractions on the Wheathampstead Heritage Trail that is currently being devised and we're thrilled with the universal support we are receiving for the project."

While some of the sailors were busy restoring the station, six of their colleagues were giving the Pioneer Youth Club in St Albans a make-over, helping staff clear and clean the community room and kitchen ready for refurbishment, doing some plastering and painting work, and helping clear away leaves and rubbish from outside.

The Mayor said: "We are always delighted to see officers and crew from HMS St Albans, whatever the occasion but their efforts last Thursday were magnificent and gave a huge boost to the projects in such a friendly, cooperative and productive manner.


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