New community room unveiled for Sleaford rail station
Rail organisations are celebrating completing a £204,000 project to repaint Sleaford station and convert a disused waiting room into a unique community space.
It will provide a space for local schools and groups to learn about the railway and safety, as well as a place where other local groups can meet and hold events.
The building, with its own kitchen space where toilets used to be, also includes a water harvesting system so that volunteer station adopters can keep the site's garden beds looking their best.
The rest of the station also received a new coat of paint in the correct heritage colours of the station’s former occupiers, London and North Eastern London Railway - Buckingham green and cream.
The work at Sleaford was jointly funded by operators East Midlands Railway, the Rail Heritage Trust, CrossCountry Trains, the Community Rail Network and the Poacher Line Community Rail Partnership, with support from Network Rail.
It was officially opened on Wednesday by leader of North Kesteven District Council, Coun Richard Wright. The authority had liaised closely with the project.
He said: “We have a keen interest in seeing this station develop and improve. It is a unique community space and a gateway to Sleaford we should be rightly proud of.”
Joanne Andrews of the Poacher Line Community Rail Partnership, which will handle room bookings, began planning and approaching funders two years ago. She saw it as a legacy, encouraging people to see Sleaford as a destination rather than passing through.
The volunteer groups, schools and the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport are already keen to use the space, as well as the community policing team.
Georgina Chapman, project manager at East Midlands Railway, said the space had a lot of potential for all sorts of community projects.
“It had been unused for at least 20 years and had vermin and pigeons in it as well as fire damage,” she recalls.
“We also had to do a total rebuild on the skylight. The painting of the station has really brought it back to life and it is nice to connect that history to a Grade II listed building.
The Railway Heritage Trust, funded by Network Rail to breathe new life into railway buildings, invested £53,000 in the project. Tim Hedley-Jones, executive director, said they are especially pleased with the quality of the repainting and that rooms at the station have been brought back into community use.
Peter Roberts, chairman of the Poacher Line Community Rail Partnership, said: "The opening of the new room is great news and it will really benefit local voluntary orgnisations around the town who need a convenient place to meet.
"It is also lovely to see the station in its new heritage colours."
David Jones, Stakeholder Liaison Manager at CrossCountry said: “CrossCountry links with the Poacher Line at Nottingham providing connectivity to the West Midlands, Wales and the South for people travelling from and to Sleaford station.
"We are delighted to support our Community Rail Partnerships with funding for great restoration projects like this that breathe new life into disused station buildings which can then be used by local community groups.”