Another award for Okehampton station
Okehampton station has won another award, scooping the Community Award at the National Railway Heritage Awards in a ceremony held in the City of London last Wednesday.
The award was for the heritage restoration of the main station building which was part of the overall Dartmoor Line reopening work.
This included new period Southern Railway design signage, the heritage booking office and booking hall which have been restored to the look of the late 1950s/early 1960s and the heritage waiting room which has been fitted out with Southern Railway design furniture.
The main station building dates from the early 1930s and was built by the Southern Railway. After the line closed to passengers in 1972 and the last member of staff, who had been dealing with freight, retired, the station was boarded up and just escaped demolition.
Devon County Council bought the station in the mid 1990s and worked with the late Roy Gibbs and others to fully restore it. The whole operational side of the station was sold to Network Rail last year.
The 1990’s restoration had seen heritage signage and the period feel of the station developed and there was a common wish that the heritage of the station should be retained and enhanced where possible.
Network Rail restored the fabric of the station and the station canopy while GWR led the main internal works on the building.
By agreement with GWR, the Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership, working closely with the Dartmoor Railway Association and Dartmoor National Park, led the work on the signage and fitting out most of the rooms in the main building.
Funding for the signage and fitting out these rooms was obtained from GWR’s Community Rail Major Project Fund, the Railway Heritage Trust and the Community Rail Development Fund, a joint initiative of the Department of Transport and the Community Rail Network.
Present in London to accept the award were Sue and Tom Baxter, Chairman and Secretary of the Dartmoor Railway Association, Richard Burningham, Manager of the Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership and Paul Bryant of Parc Signs. They were joined by two senior railway managers who both played key roles in the reopening project, Matt Barnes of GWR and Christian Irwin of Network Rail.
Richard Burningham said “I am absolutely delighted that our project at Okehampton has won this award. What we have achieved has been a great team effort. Thanks in particular to GWR for making the heritage work possible and the Dartmoor Railway Association for their role in the project and all they have done and continue to do at the station. I am very proud of what we have jointly achieved at the station and proud that we have built on what was done back in 1997 to fine effect.”
Sue Baxter said “The heritage areas of the station have been restored to a marvellous standard and I am really pleased that our project has won this prestigious award. It was a privilege to work with so many organisations to keep and then restore the 1950’s feel of the station which was so beautifully achieved first under Devon County Council ownership for the first reopening in 1997.”
“Dartmoor Railway Association volunteers are proud to be custodians of Okehampton Station, which is a much loved community facility. We are also told by travellers that it is a destination in itself now, because it is a fully working station where you also step back in time. A tribute to all who kept the station alive in the past.”
Matt Barnes, who is GWR Head of Strategic Service Development, said: “It is great that Okehampton station has won another award, now just two years since we and our partners reopened the Dartmoor Line.
“The success of the Dartmoor Line, with more than half a million journeys now made, is testament to the hard work of so many who campaigned for the line’s reinstatement, and the benefits of investing in local transport. The continued demand shows just how important good rail connections are for the community, and the economies, they serve.”
Parc Signs of St Austell provided all the signage and fitted out both the booking hall and booking office, with the work led by Creative Design Engineer Paul Bryant. Paul and Parc Signs also provided the heritage signage for the 1990’s restoration.
Okehampton Station itself was recently awarded “Small Station of the Year” at the National Rail Awards and is shortlisted in the forthcoming National Railway Heritage Awards. The line itself and the reopening project have won several awards which are on display in a cabinet at the station.
More information about the National Railway Heritage Awards can be found at https://nrha.org.uk/. More details of the heritage project, including photos, can be found here
Photo – The presentation photo shows (from the left as you look at it) Andy Savage, Chairman of the Awards, Christian Irwin of Network Rail, Tom Baxter of the Dartmoor Railway Association (DRA), Paul Bryant of Parc Signs, Sue Baxter, Chair of the DRA, Richard Burningham, Manager of the Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership (holding the award), Andy Mellors, MD of Avanti West Coast (presenting the award), Matt Barnes of GWR and Bill Reeve, Director of Rail, Transport Scotland. Photo credit – Duncan Phillips/NRHA