One might think of railway stations as fairly mundane places that one merely transits through on the way to a final destination.
During the British Railways (BR) period, stations ceased to be ‘temples of transport’ and became utility buildings, one of the reasons that Blackpool North railway station is such a functional design classic.
Crossing the brutalist architecture period with the post-Beeching (rail cuts programme) financial squeeze, didn’t help. Things like the large logo locomotive livery at one end of the scale and the highly successful High Speed Train at the other, shows that BR could jolly well design stuff, if it had the money. Nevertheless, constant cuts to stay within spending limits meant that some stations were hollowed out and became a shadow of their former selves.
The South Fylde Line Community Rail Partnership (SFLCRP) works with Network Rail and operator, Northern Railways, to improve the line’s services and facilities and is contributing to a ‘Restoring Your Railway’ project that’s considering how the line’s service frequency could be increased, from the current one train per hour. The South Fylde Line offers an alternative rail service from the south of Blackpool to the Preston interchange hub and on to Colne via Blackburn.
The memories and spirit of the line’s denuded stations is being recovered. History and art have been brought together in a poster project to present the stations’ former status to the public. The SFLCRP in association with Community Rail Lancashire (CRL) is asking local groups and station partnerships along the South Fylde Line to write a brief history of each SFL station, which will allow a station specific poster to be designed as an artwork. Posters are already in place at:
- Ansdell and Fairhaven
- St. Anne’s-on-the-Sea
- Moss Side
- and Salwick
Not least the stations on our own South Fylde Line (SFL – Blackpool South to Kirkham), some reduced from fine mainline standard facilities to virtual platform halts. Moss Side and Wrea Green were lost completely, the former restored following a community campaign. The line was single tracked in the ’80s so that only one platform was required. Until the line joins the North Fylde Line at Kirkham, St Anne’s is the only station that has a ticket office, although other stations now have ticket vending machines.
Lytham is next in the pipeline, and this leaves Blackpool South, Blackpool Pleasure Beach and Squire’s Gate to go. If you have any material pertaining to these facilities, please do dig it out for this admirable project. Each poster will be displayed in the SFLCRP’s striking red poster panels to tell each station’s story. Examples from other areas are available on the Community Rail Lancashire site. Such material could concern: when was the station opened; to what extent has it changed since opening; are there photos and plans showing key stages in the station’s history? The material needs to eventually fit into a double royal sized poster. If you have mountains of interesting facts, pictures and plans about your station, the SFLCRP will place them on the CRL website.
I think it is important for people to know something about where they live and/or work. The history posters will act as a reminder of how things looked and were used in years gone by. Hopefully understanding the history of their locality will encourage people to appreciate what life was like in the past and inspire them to preserve and protect what we have today. The posters will also provide an opportunity for those who know something of a station’s history to come forward and share their rail-related memories and stories.
Caroline Holden, Community Rail Development officer with CRL said:
It’s fantastic to be working with such enthusiastic station groups to create posters that will share the stations’ rich history with users. It’s also something that can be produced even during these difficult times without compromising anyone’s safety. I know some groups are looking for past station photos, so if you have any you can share, please do. You will be acknowledged for any that are used.
A short information video has been produced:
If you’d like to contribute to this project and maybe know more about the SFLCRP’s work and objectives, you can submit your material and contact Caroline Holden at [email protected]
Header image: Class 37 37 407 'Blackpool Tower' in large logo livery
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