Station Volunteer Summaries
Their activities and story so far
Blooms at Henley-in-Arden
Stratford upon Avon
Friends of Stratford Station (FoSS) began work on the platforms in 2017 much helped by the then train operator London Midland. With a massive Leylandii grubbed out and heavy block work carried out we were able to concentrate on planting up the platform garden and become adopters. Avon Support have been superb in watering the planters during the summers since 2017.
We are awaiting West Midland Trains restoring a tap and water supply on platform 2 ahead of 2022 spring and summer.
With change of franchise to West Midlands Trains the interest and help to make the station welcoming has continued. The Friends of the Shakespeare Line have done great work and consequently our four planters have grown to nine. We are planning to add a planter to the front of the station in spring 2022.
We have a very welcome sponsorship from Rosconn, which helps with plants and planters. Forest of Hearts, a brilliant local charity, has helped with non-peat compost and Planet Graduate is working with the County Council to create a bio-diversity garden close by.
So much achieved and so much more to do. Looking forward to the Jubilee planting.
Stratford upon Avon Parkway
At Stratford Parkway two planters have been built from recycled materials which have water reservoirs, to limit the amount of watering needed. These worked well most of the year, only needing extra watering when we had the heat wave temperatures >30C for several days last summer.
The long 90ft x 2ft space along the fence behind the bus shelter is slowly being improved from poor stoney made up ground and
turned into a flower bed. We had 250 plants donated by an organic nursery last autumn after seeing the work that had been done at the station social media. The station gets a litter pick and tidy up roughly weekly as well, which has received favourable comments from local people and station users.
2021 was really the start of the adoption of the station at Wilmcote and we have been very lucky to enlist a group of keen Wilmcote villagers to our venture. We had some challenges; Water! what water? pesky rabbits and brambles and nettles everywhere.
There was no water available on either platform and access to the station is not easy. We were having to fill cans at home, bring them by car, park cars a distance from the entrance, carry water up the road to the station entrance and then down a long slope to the platforms. Once on platform 1 some of it would then have to be carried over the bridge.
One of our Adopters, Sue Stewart, spotted some empty plastic jerry cans at the car valeting service at Wootton Wawen. She arranged to get quite a few of these which made a significant difference. Later in the year we had a breakthrough when we found a water tap at the back of the old waiting room/ticket office. This building although looking part of the station infrastructure belonged to the owners of the Station House and not Network Rail. We are very grateful to Mr & Mrs Potter for allowing us to have access to this tap and the hose. It was a significant game changer for our adoption efforts and plans.
Our planters have been very colourful and due to the efforts of Chris Chance and Jill Philps the winter planting has been particularly good. A significant achievement in 2021 was in making and installing two Wilmcote station name signs in the traditional GWR black and white. These were made and installed by John Douglas, our first Wilmcote station adopter, and have been admired by all.
The highlight of our involvement to date was the recent unveiling of a plaque to Douglas King, by his daughters, a Wilmcote businessman who was instrumental in keeping the line open. The whole team has played their part in clearing, weeding and rabbit hole duty but in particular watering.
Bearley station is a small platform with a tiny freshly painted shelter that has just had new ‘movement sensor’ lamps fitted as well as lovely new handrails up the slope to the platform.
We have two small planters plus a long stretch of flat gravelly-ground undisturbed for years. Rather than fill the whole stretch sparsely in year one, we opted to plant one half during 2021 and so these varying shrubs and ornamental grasses are now starting to establish (although some sadly didn’t make it) along with a whole new section of weeds that sprang out of nowhere as soon as we dug the area!
Last year saw our most amazingly busy station day when The Flying Scotsman made several appearances. The platform was literally packed like sardines with families, dogs, pushchairs, steam buffs, photographers all gamely squashed together with a breathless sense of excitement as she thundered towards us heading for Stratford on Avon... and she didn’t disappoint!
On inspection of the platform area and embankment behind, it was clear that the first task was to remove a lot of dead wood in order to find some soil for planting. The adopters set to work clearing large volumes of dead wood and making neat piles towards the end and back of the platform. Some of the wood was used to make bug hotels. Several large stones, bricks and paving slabs were recovered from the former Claverdon Station. Some of the stones were used to create the word Claverdon at the far end of the platform and painted white.
Each adopter brought some shrubs and plants from their own gardens to create a small garden next to the platform wating shelter. Some daffodil bulbs and wildflower seed mix were also added. The soil at Claverdon is poor and it was agreed by the adopters that it would take the whole of 2020 to prepare the land to take additional plants and wildflower seed. One of the ideas for Claverdon Station is to promote wildlife and attract birds, bees and habitat for various wild animals.
Another monumental task is the clearing of ivy that is growing up some of the trees and taking over areas of the embankment. This will be an on-going task throughout the year in order to manage and keep the ivy in check.
Other activities included:
research for the manufacture of a replica GWR Running In Board
the creation of a pictorial timeline to show the changes to Claverdon Railway Station over the years
A meeting with the current owners of the former Booking Office for storage, a possible water supply and acquisition of the buildings
In November 2020, a successful application was made to Claverdon Parish Council for a grant of £500. It is intended to use these funds to purchase gardening tools, a water butt, bird boxes and other items to continue the work at the station.
From a pool of seven volunteers the team at Wootton Wawen usually operate in pairs or as a threesome, though all hands were called up for the Great Planting Session in the spring of 2021.
Earlswood Garden Centre provided perennial lavender and rosemary and a bay tree grown as a 'standard' for each of the station’s four planters. Annuals – nasturtiums and marigolds - were germinated from seed to give colour, the nasturtiums proving to overwhelm the limited space!
Earlier in the season advantage was taken of the offer from Rotary of crocus corms which we planted into inhospitable ground – mainly fine grit – along a 50-ft length at the bottom of the embankment behind each platform. Patches of daffodil bulbs also went in and despite late planting, produced the goods, as did the crocus. They show signs of fresh growth in 2022.
Due to no water supply and no water butts to date, watering in and sustaining sufficient moister during the drier parts of the summer was a challenge.
In late autumn after removing the spent annuals, we under-planted daffodils and on the surface placed a small number of heather and pansy plants. The most arduous work was tidying rubbish from behind the platform shelters, requiring a number of heavy-duty builders’ bags, more brought into use as strimmer and motorised saw produced a substantial amount of scrub and tree pruning’s from the thinning of undergrowth on the embankments behind each platform. This operation, spread over a number of visits, was judiciously carried out to leave most foliage, especially that which would give colour in the growing season.
There has been a great deal of activity at Henley-in-Arden as the community has embraced its station with a number of volunteers stepping forward.
Over 2020/21 we largely concentrated on the station environment. We now have a large wildflower border running the entire length of the car park. There is also a metal sculpture of a bee in the carpark made and donated by a local craftsman.
With the help of Friends of the Shakespeare Line we installed 14 wooden planters for seasonal bedding, and we were very pleased with the display in 2021. We are really looking forward to this year’s planting and playing our part in a whole line planting scheme which looks exciting.
The original 1908 GWR station building is currently boarded up and derelict but not for much longer. We have successfully gained the support of the Railway Heritage Trust who have agreed to part fund to restore and repurpose the building as both a community and railway facility. We are currently working with Network Rail to agree the terms of lease and to get the building internally to a condition whereby we can get surveyors and architects to measure and design what we need to bring our innovative plans to reality. We can then start fund raising with a clear design, vision and plan.
Work started at Danzey in November 2020 with the planting of two 70m lines of daffodil bulbs, one on each platform. This was quite an achievement by the three volunteers who completed the back-breaking task in two sessions. Crocus corms were also planted near to the waiting shelters. The daffodil display last spring was heart-warming.
In April 2021 the two station planters were delivered and filled with a range of plants intended to ensure a relatively low maintenance display. In the same month two heather beds were created using rockery stone sourced via Freecycle. The one on the northbound side is sited on the steep bank adjacent to the running-in board, an area which appears to have been previously tended many years ago when station staff were present.
Unfortunately, both heather beds have suffered from apparent squirrel damage, with nibbling and uprooting of plants a major problem. To try and solve this, mesh has been laid on the soil surface and held in place by the rocks and additional anchors. This has helped, however plants on the southbound side are still struggling to get established.
The lack of a water supply has been challenging but we are looking forward to the installation of water butts.
We had to wait for much of 2021 for our platforms to be resurfaced which meant that we were limited in what we were able to do.
We managed to plant crocus and daffodils, and we are pleased that the daffodils are now showing well for their second year.
We have now planted out our planters and look forward to adding to them shortly as we play our part along the line with the unique planting plan.
Volunteering at Wood End station is a way of doing something for our local community and bringing a smile, especially at the current time.
In time I would like to encourage others to help and use it as a way of getting to know others and engender a community spirit.
We only have a small station but lots of land.
We have spent ages clearing brambles and digging over the ground. We planted lots of bulbs and a number of plants. We filled our lovely planters with bedding.
We created a nursery area where we could plant shrubs and flowers given to us by local residents.
We have planted up a small memorial area to a resident who passed away recently.
Lots done and lots to do!
We have planted out several planters on the station and are looking forward to providing a new colourful display based on the Queen's Platinum Jubilee in late spring 2022.
At Wythall Station, students at Woodrush have done the following:
Artwork installations made by students to reflect local heritage of the station and the village (1 in each platform shelter)
Box planters planted with summer planting and perennial planting
Regular watering of summer planting
Regular litter collection and removal of glass etc
Box Planters planted with winter flowering colour and spring bulbs
Shrubbery planted on bank towards 'Birmingham' bound platform
Concrete 'bee post' installed to encourage overwintering bees and insects
Shrubbery at station pruned to improve visual amenity, line of sight and natural light
Trees pruned to improve natural light on 'Stratford' bound platform walkway
Early in 2022 we built and completed the first geocaching adventure lab experience for a railway line in the world.
The Shakespeare Line is now explorable through the Geocaching Adventure Lab.
Our spring 2022 plans include:
Plant out summer colour for the Queen's Platinum Jubilee
Invest in more planters/planting
Erect a banner to mark Woodrush adoption of station
Create a 'bug hotel' area to encourage more biodiversity
Continue with long term pruning of shrubbery to improve amenity
Plant wildflowers on banks which are more inaccessible and unsuitable for standard shrubbery/flower planting
In December 2020 over 250 daffodil bulbs were planted. There was a great display of daffodils in spring 2021 and this year they are looking successful again.
The installation of the planters had an immediate effect on the station and there were many positive comments from the public using the station. Evergreen shrubs were planted in the planters with room to add seasonal plants. In spring, violas, pansies and primulas were planted.
Begonias and geraniums replaced the spring annuals in summer and in winter, bulbs, cyclamen, violas and primulas added when the summer plants finished. Although no water on site, the planters and beds have been watered regularly.
A bank area on the out of City side was developed and planted with bulbs, periwinkle, lavender and other plants to encourage bees, butterflies and other insects. Existing wildflowers and plants have been left to grow.
The upper bank area is where the Bee, native flower seedballs received at Christmas will be planted.
The programme of planting bulbs under the trees in the car park is underway to make the entrance to the station welcoming and six trees have already had bulbs planted under them.
We are pleased that we have achieved what we planned to do in the 2021 yearly plan as well as much more and keen to continue developing the area to see the station environment improving.
We started our year by clearing out (so many spiders!!) and painting the inside of the old Lamplighters' Hut to use for the storage of our tools etc.
We planted the crocus bulbs given to us by the Rotary Club to promote 'Purple for Polio', along with some daffodils and they provided a lovely spring display.
After our planters were delivered, we filled them with perennials and alpines, later adding summer bedding which lasted well into the autumn.
There is a large area overshadowed by conifers into which we are gradually putting a selection of shrubs, plants and seeds which should add interest over the months.
We have had a super poem written for the station by a member of a poetry society which is displayed on the platform along with a notice board containing details of the Shirley area which provides interest for passengers using the railway.
We've had an enjoyable time and are looking forward to the coming year.
Colour at Whitlocks End
We don't have a schedule at this station. It depends on the weather and how we feel at the time! However, we have tidied and enjoyed filling the planters. It is a big help having a water supply.
Thanks to Fraser we had an extra litter container put in and we are grateful for that but the litter on the Stratford upon Avon side of the station remains a problem since it is behind a high chain link fence and difficult to get to. We understand that Network Rail are looking at what can be done about this.
Over the years and before Earlswood's involvement, many plants from my own garden were put in and they are doing well. We would like to plant a row of small box plants as a low hedge at the back of the original station gardens as a way of preventing stones, leaves and rubbish sliding down the net rail slopes and onto the station gardens.
It is always a pleasure to receive the thanks of passengers as they board or leave the trains when we are working there.
Being Hall Green station adopters for over 5 years we have volunteered through the bad, intermediate, and good times as far as station adopters go.
Initially it was London Midland, with no perceivable support. When West Midland Railway took over the franchise Sandra and I carried on as previous, improving the station gardens using our own funds to purchase various plants and fertilisers. The main problem was carrying from home 16-20, 5 litre water containers once or twice a week as required. Initially I think Sandra and I were floating soles in the records of West Midland Railway as there was a panic to get invites to us two days prior to the first volunteer outing on the Severn Valley Railway.
The appointment of Fay Easton was a major benefit to the adoption system, we had someone who cared and encouraged adopters. However, she was horrified to learn we had spent our own funds on station garden improvements and eventually found funds to reimburse the expenditure. However, funding was always a difficult problem and our request for a platform water supply was like asking for the impossible.
Twelve months ago, a saviour was born in the form of Friends of the Shakespeare Line. Our dream request of a tap suddenly appeared, followed by 4 excellent well-constructed planters and a budget to purchase plants to fill them. Publicity and enthusiasm exploded along the Shakespeare Line. We all became part of an expanding team of appreciated volunteers.
Crocus and daffodil bulbs to plant as a theme running down the line. Poetry boards on Hall Green station as an innovative project. With the excellent leadership behind the adopters’ scheme and the backing of FoSL, our line is an example for others to follow.
Fraser with UB40 at Hall Green for the launch of the Music Maps
260th Birmingham Scout Group adopted Spring Road Station just as Covid hit. This delayed our plans to get the youngsters from our group to assist in brightening Spring Road Station up by planting crocuses, daffodils, sunflowers and making bird feeders and bug hotels.
So, while we were closed the adults sprang into action in clearing the rubbish, cans after cans, clearing leaves which we collected for the youngsters to turn into leaf mould ready for the following years plants, planting crocuses, daffodils and sunflowers.
Then the planters arrived which is when we had visits from the phantom plant pincher again and again and again.
We refused to be put off by this and replanted.
Now we are back open the youngsters will be getting more involved and complete their gardening badges.
Spring Road Station will be springing into action big time this year.
Volunteers continue to look after Tyseley Station.
We are in negotiations to get a nice mural designed and placed in an appropriate place.
A lot of our plans remain on hold while we await the commencement of major structural work as, for example, roofs require major repairs.
Also, we have three very large flower beds, and one is in urgent need of filling in with considerable amount of replacement soil. Again, we are in the hands of contractors who are the only ones allowed to do the job.
Litter seems to have reduced and graffiti not quite so common.
We made a great start in 2021 at the station by getting West Midlands to include it in their painting plan for the Shakespeare Line.
The new coat of paint has freshened up the station as has the work on the stairs which has made them safer.
We are grateful to the volunteers at Henley-in- Arden who have helped us by arranging new art deco style posters for Small Heath advertising local destinations along the line.
We are particularly pleased at being able to bring our vision to life outside the station with a large sized art deco display board that highlights that Birmingham city centre is only 4 minutes away by train.
We continue to work on obtaining access to the redundant platform where we have plans to develop a heritage display and other ideas.
Thanks to the help from the Friends of the Shakespeare Line we are also working with the rail and transport organisations to address the need to get step free access to our station to unlock the demand from the community to use the train.
Shabrana and her '4 minutes to Birmingham' hoarding at Small Heath