ACoRP’s first encounter with the Mytholmroyd Station Partnership was an e-mail, which read ‘we have planted a few dafs in the station and wondered if you might like to have a look.
And so began a 12-year association with the group that has seen them grow from a small band of residents to, well, a small band of residents! But, it is what they have achieved, sometimes through great adversity, that makes them this year’s winner of the Outstanding Contribution to Community Rail Award.
So, starting with the few daffodils – it was in fact thousands of them. This progressed to regular station tidy-ups attracting large groups of volunteers, quite often in torrential rain and gales, a well-known experience in this part of Yorkshire.
The group’s biggest and most significant project has been the renovation of a three-storey station building. The listed structure was closed to the public in the 1980s when new platforms were built. Over a period of more than 20 years, the building became a dilapidated eyesore, but the station partnership continually said that there was “constant demand” from the local community to bring it back into use. Having researched the market and engaged local stakeholders, the group developed a business case to convert the building for community use, and commissioned a full feasibility study. Initial plans included a marketplace of activities showcasing local businesses and start-ups, including space for a local food manufacturer, art studios and a community gallery, and a walking and cycling hub.
The first phase of this major capital project is now complete, with Network Rail having successfully restored the outside of the building. While the local train operator, Northern, will take responsibility for the lease, the station group are set to be allocated a base at the site, alongside a new education facility. The group have achieved their core aim of bringing the building back into an appropriate use, thus benefitting the community, thanks to their detailed planning and persistence. The one snag for the group may be where they are going to hang their community artwork now that the building’s windows are no longer boarded up!
The partnership, led by Geoff and Sue Mitchell, are extremely active in reaching out to their local community, involving volunteers in a range of gardening and planting activities. They are also involved in varied work with local schools, including environmental projects at the station, organising visits to local businesses under the ‘Fanfare for Local Business’ scheme, and events such as an annual Christmas carol singing train. In 2017, they won the ACoRP Small Projects Award for their youth engagement work with local Cubs, building a host of ‘bug hotels’ at their station made from locally-salvaged waste materials.
To sum up, they are principally a community railway station – always looking to work with local residents, businesses, schools and community groups to improve their local station and make it a welcoming gateway to the town. They are also happy to share their knowledge and expertise with others in community rail, and were the first group to be twinned with another Northern station adoption group, based in North Yorkshire. This award is a suitable reward for their 13 years of hard work and dedication serving their community.