Station Adoption Spotlight: meet the Blythe Bridge team

Claire Sandys, Community Rail Officer at North Staffordshire Community Rail Partnership (CRP), gives us an insight into what the team of dedicated volunteers achieve at Blythe Bridge Station.

Blythe Bridge Station, located about 6 miles southeast of Stoke-on-Trent, is managed by East Midlands Railway (EMR) and forms a stopping point on the Crewe to Newark Castle route.

The Blythe Bridge Station Adopters have achieved a huge amount in the last few years through hard graft, teamwork and good humour. Most of the volunteers meet twice a week at the station, liaising closely with EMR and the North Staffordshire CRP to seek permissions, apply for funds and manage projects.

In July 2021, the station adopters were granted a community licence to maintain an additional strip of Network Rail land which has since been weeded, mulched and planted with bulbs and shrubs. 

And, although a large part of their work, the skills of these volunteers extend far beyond gardening! They happily tackle a range of other jobs too. The group has built their own compost heaps from pallets to try and sustainably manage the amount of ‘waste’ plant material generated by their endeavours. They have painted the station entrance fence, carried out small repair work to the crazy paving under the trees, and even assisted partners with larger projects such as wall repair and the removal of ivy from the track side of the fences.

The scope of the adopters’ work also takes them outside the boundaries of the station. Many volunteers have assisted at action days at other stations including Kidsgrove and Derby, and the group participate each year in EMR’s Remembrance Day services – of course supporting the village’s own Remembrance activities with displays at the station.  

One of the group’s most ambitious projects has been the creation of the Queen Elizabeth Platinum Jubilee Rose Garden in summer 2022. It took weeks of hard work to remove overgrown shrubs and stubborn roots by hand from raised beds near the station entrance, and in December 2021 the beds were planted with 49 rose bushes in blue, red and white blocks. The community garden provides wonderful scent, colour and vibrancy to passengers using the station.  

The station environment at Blythe Bridge has been improved hugely in the last few years thanks to this proactive and hardworking team of volunteers and their contagious enthusiasm. The growth in volunteers alone proves just this – the group has gone from four volunteers in 2018 to 10 by the end of 2023, as neighbours and friends come on board to help out.

Many thanks to all the adopters for what they have done and continue to do!

Listen to volunteers Mick and Howard talk more about the impact of their work and what volunteering means to them.