Updated: Friends of Bitterne Station are holding an open day in April having now been granted access to the small station building for community use.
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Not only does the group work hard on keeping the gardens and borders around the station looking cleaner and greener, but they’ve also been busy decorating the building to turn it into a community space.
Buildings at Bitterne Station
The Three Rivers Railways Partnership – which strives to improve stations and services – has also lent a hand with repairs including to the roof, front door, and historical features.
The open day, on Sunday, April 30 from 11am - 1pm, will be a chance for people to see the space for themselves.
Interior of Bitterne Station building
“We are not 100% about the use of the station building at the moment, beyond knowing we want it to be a community hub,” said Roberta, one of the Friends of Bitterne Station.
“We hope to maybe have a community pantry, we will continue to swap plants, seeds but also maybe books, toys. We hope the event on the 30th will get people talking and maybe we can see also what the community wants.”
The friends group has also won funding from the council’s Community Chest fund to work with artist Helen Goodman to create a mosaic celebrating the reopening of the building and its new community purpose.
Open day visitors are urged to bring ideas, old photos, and stories about the station and the local community, which might inspire initial pictures for the Bitterne Station Mosaic Project.
Mark Miller, director of Hampshire Community Rail Partnership, said the organisation is “delighted to be working on the refurbishment of the old ticket office and booking hall at Bitterne Station".
He added: "The first phase of works should be completed by the beginning of May 2023 and we are hoping to gain additional funds in order to repaint throughout and reopen all the currently boarded up windows to breathe new life into the building later this year.
"It is fantastic we have such a marvellous group of enthusiastic volunteers who will help to utilise the building for the benefit of the local community and we look forward to developing and implementing our ideas over the next few months. However, if there is anything local residents and visitors would like to see us incorporate in the refurbished building, please let us know and we will consider.
"Watch this space!”
Updated 26/4/23 with comment from Mark Miller
Station friends Rachel Hickman (left) and Ziggy Woodward hard at work in 2021