IT has been the talk of travellers for months, but now Hindley Railway Station has been officially recognised as the best in the North West.
Passengers travelling to and from Manchester have witnessed an amazing transformation as volunteers from The Friends of Hindley Station dug out tangles of brambles to reveal ornate flower beds and an eye catching stone motif.
Now the Friends – who are hoping to start work on the remaining gardens in the new year – have capped a fantastic year with two prestigious titles.
The Royal Horticultural Association (RHA’s) Northwest in Bloom 2012 awards saw the station gardens win the Best Railway Station Award while the project also earned an Outstanding (Level Five) plaudit in the It’s Your Neighbourhood Awards.
Earlier this summer the group, formed five years ago, walked off with the title runners-up in the Federation of Community Rail Partnerships (ACORPS) awards in Swindon for the best station garden project as well as earning the Community Rail certificate of excellence, plus outstanding achievement for Station garden and floral display.
The station itself is also thriving operationally with passenger figures having doubled over the last decade.
Friends chairman, Jim Ellis said: “It all seems a far cry from 2005 when following a meeting at which the Friends of Hindley Station was formed a small group of us stood on a cold windswept platform surveying the wreck that was Hindley Station. It never occurred to us then what a massive job we had taken on and initially, our only idea was to cut back the foliage and plant a few flowers along the edge of the Manchester platform.
“We had no idea what that we would still be at it years on or that our work would attract national acclaim.”
He said the station gardens project demonstrated the “team spirit and hard graft” by people in the Hindley community whose sole interest was to improve one of the “key gateways” into the town.
Coun Ellis believes that it wouldn’t be fair to single any one person out for praise because over the years “so many” have contributed to what has now been achieved.
But he did pay tribute to the 3rd Hindley Explorers scout group who over the last 12 months have done “sterling work” in all kinds of weather. Hindley primary schools have also been involved in making up the displays that have hung on the station walls. The council have also backed the project with surplus materials and cash from Brighter Borough funding, and the famous Bulldog Tools in Clarington Forge have supplied tools.
Coun Ellis said: “Many ordinary people have come forward with donations and plants and the enthusiasm of those working there has been demonstrated in the work undertaken and the willingness to make financial contributions as well. On one occasion we were assisted by an enthusiastic traveller who while waiting for the train joined in. If it hadn’t have been for his son reminding him he would have happily missed the train.”