Spotlight on Stations
This summer we’re taking the opportunity to spotlight some of our amazing train stations in Lancashire and highlight the incredible work our volunteer groups do to keep them looking beautiful and grow pride amongst visitors and the local community.
Second station in the Spotlight on Stations series, is Squires Gate station on the busy South Fylde Line.
Back L to R: Barry, Paul Nettleton, Michael Whittaker Front L to R: Carol Nettleton and Shirley Bradbury
Community Rail Lancashire is shining a light on Squires Gate Railway Station as part of its series of Station Spotlights in September.
Maintenance of the station, which is an integral part of the South Fylde Line, was taken over by a group of passionate volunteers in 2018 after Barrie Russell and Tony Ford opted to split the former Friends of St Annes and Squires Gate Stations groups into two to give them their own identity and dedicated teams.
Barrie leads the group along with Paul Nettleton and between them they arrange regular meet ups with volunteers to carry out projects such as planting and watering flowers, painting, strimming and even small construction tasks!
Work started on a 40-point project plan in 2018 and since then the volunteers have completed 16 tasks with a further nine in progress and six that are ongoing.
In 2022 the team successfully carried out a project to improve accessibility to Platform 2 by transforming a previously overgrown space into a ramp using donated materials.
Work has also been undertaken to create a series of raised flower beds that provide a safe seating area for the team and their visitors as well as a stunning floral display for rail users, staff and, of course, the local community.
Other recent achievements include the design and installation of an innovative, environmentally friendly, solar powered water collection system and the introduction of two large perennial sleeper planting beds.
The volunteers aren’t the only regular station visitors, as it is also home to a whole host of animals. Wildlife cameras that have been set up around the platforms have captured the nocturnal movements of hedgehogs, ferrets, mice, a weasel, a fox and even a sand lizard!
Barrie and Paul are delighted with the work carried out by the group and they are always looking for more enthusiasts to come along and get involved.
Barrie said: “These once unloved platforms are now bursting with colour and life following a concerted effort from a bunch of really dedicated people.
“We are environmentally conscious and our aim is to make maintenance and improvements more self-sufficient – we will reuse and recycle whatever we can.
“In addition to all the beautiful planters we also have an apple tree, a pear tree, strawberry plants and some herbs that can be shared out with the volunteers with a view to offering the produce to the local community when they are fully established.
“It is really exciting to watch the footage from the wildlife cameras, we built a little wooden hut for the hedgehog and created a sand dune for the sand lizard and we will continue to support the animals through winter.
“We are always on the lookout for more people over the age of 18 to help. We meet throughout the year and work hard while having fun along the way.”
Richard Watts, Chair of Community Rail Lancashire added: “The work of Community Rail Lancashire would be impossible without the dedication of people who give up their time to create stations that are beautiful and welcoming.
“Our Station Spotlight features have been created to celebrate these very special volunteers and thank them for their unwavering support.
“The groups are a fantastic way to make new friends and give back to the community so I would urge anyone looking for a new hobby to get in touch today for more information.”
Want to join the volunteering team at Squires Gate station?
The station group is always on the lookout for new volunteers over the age of 18. Would you like to put something back into the community, do you have green fingers, like painting or simply want to get out of the house and meet new people and look after your mental health? If so, get in touch.