Rail Minister Wendy Morton MP was welcomed by the Tyne Valley Community Rail Partnership (CRP) to see the ongoing improvement works at Haltwhistle Station.
Accompanied by local Hexham MP Guy Opperman, the Minister was given a tour of the newly refurbished buildings on Platforms 1 and 2 at Haltwhistle Station and told about some of the challenges faced during the £500,000 transformation of the dilapidated and redundant station spaces.
Tyne Valley CRP took on the challenge of the boarded-up old waiting rooms on the platforms nearly two years ago, and the Partnership have faced struggles throughout the pandemic in completing such a complex but special restoration. Once complete, the project will have created four new studio/office spaces which can be leased to local businesses, as well as two new waiting rooms for passengers – much-needed resources for the community and a more welcoming station environment.
This is the biggest project in which the Tyne Valley CRP have been involved, and has seen the support of Community Rail Network, Railway Heritage Trust, Network Rail and train operating companies Northern, CrossCountry, TransPennine Express and Avanti West Coast.
Whilst there are still areas of work yet to be completed, the Minister was able to see many of the unique finishing touches which have been incorporated into the project – these include the wrought ironwork on windows inspired by local landmarks such as the water tower, and the bespoke window blinds in the studios and offices showing railway scenes of Haltwhistle in years gone by. Guests also heard about how the local community had been involved in creating the ‘Something to Bark About’ exhibition in the waiting room on Platform 1.
The visitors also received a surprise greeting from Tyne Valley CRP’s ‘Arlo’, the character created by train driver and author Bessie Matthews, who is helping partnerships throughout the country in promoting rail safety to children. Behind the mask was Fiona Forsythe, Community Rail Officer for Tyne Valley CRP, who was able to update everyone about the educational work and other projects currently being undertaken.
Rail Minister Wendy Morton said: “I have long wanted to visit Haltwhistle Station to see for myself the transformational work that has gone into ensuring that the station is not only an attraction for visitors and commuters, but also an innovative space for entrepreneurs and local businesses to utilise.”
Guy Opperman MP has taken a keen interest in the project, regularly receiving project updates. He said: “I have visited the works at Haltwhistle Station several times over the years and the progress since my last visit is phenomenal. The improvement works will bring in further investment and tourism into Haltwhistle and rejuvenate the local area.
“The community work that has gone into this project has been nothing short of amazing and I want to congratulate the Tyne Valley CRP for their many hours of dedication and hard work. I will be supporting the team at Tyne Valley CRP for the Community Rail Awards 2022.”
Julie Gibbon, Secretary and Projects Director at Tyne Valley CRP, said: “It’s fantastic to see the hard work that has gone on at Haltwhistle Station recognised by this visit. The team at Tyne Valley CRP have worked tirelessly over the years to make this project a reality and I am glad that we are now nearly there. It is pleasing to see that two projects at Haltwhistle have been shortlisted in the Community Rail Awards 2022.”
You can keep up to date with the work of Tyne Valley CRP as well as their future projects on their website.