25:25 Vision for the Friends of Handforth Station

Guests tour Handforth Station as part of the 25th anniversary celebrations.

The Friends of Handforth Station (FoHS) are about to celebrate their 25th Anniversary. The group formed in 1996 by local campaigners Mike Bishop and Steve Nash was the very first “Friends of a Station” group in the whole of the UK.

The FoHS recently showcased their first 25 years of activity, when teams from Network Rail, Northern Trains and the country-wide Community Rail Partnership visited Handforth for a tour of the station and its many unique features.

Jenny Barnes, chair of FoHS, said: “We also spent much time with our visitors over lunch, discussing our strategies for the future. Our special thanks go to the team at The Railway Pub for being super hosts, and for sourcing a delicious meal from Artos (the new Greek bakery in Handforth).”

Mike Bishop, the current president, said: “In the early 1990s, our station deteriorated badly. The old station building was replaced by an ugly Portakabin, passenger numbers were falling, and investment was not available – for a few months it even looked like the station might be shut.

“We founded this first ‘friends of a station’ group, with the express aim of campaigning to keep the station open and to make it more welcome and more accessible for passengers. Our first major success was making sure that the station remained open, and our most recent victory has been to secure over £2 Million funding for improved Access For All at the station.”

There are now over 1,000 Friends’ groups country-wide, each of which connects their community with the governing bodies of the rail industry. Rail travel is one of the most environmentally friendly way to travel, and the Friends of Handforth Station are now deep into defining their Vision for the next 25 years.

The public will be able to see a display of the FoHS work over the “First 25 Years”, and their “Vision for the Next 25 Years”, at the Handforth Christmas Market on Saturday 27th November. The FoHS will be selling their own FoHS cards, and will also be fundraising for the Seashell Trust by selling some of their beautiful ceramic toadstools (currently on display at the station).