Community Rail Week spotlights Bitterne Station transformation

Bitterne Station interior photo SWR 600pxAfter three decades of closure, the old ticket office at Bitterne Station is being transformed into a vibrant community hub, with original features from the 1920s and '30s discovered and restored. Read more to watch a video.



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South Western Railway (SWR) used this year’s Community Rail Week, from May 20-26, to highlight the revitalisation of its previously disused station buildings and rooms.

The theme, ‘More Than a Railway’, focused on the community aspects of the railway.

Bitterne Station interior photo SWR 600px The old Bitterne Station ticket office. Photo: South Western Railway

One of SWR’s 12 Community Rail Partnerships (CRPs), the Bitterne Station ticket office, is being turned into a community hub for meetings, events, and refreshments.

The Friends of Bitterne Station initially used the space for a weekly mosaics art group, crafting, and gardening events in the spring and summer.

However, the building needed significant refurbishment.

This became possible when Hampshire CRP took on a lease for the building and used an investment of £40,000 from SWR’s Customers and Communities Improvement Fund.

During the renovation, Southern Railway features from the 1920s and '30s were discovered, such as the original red clay tile flooring, windows, paintwork, and a fireplace.

The Railway Heritage Trust provided funding to preserve these features. Restoration work included reopening and restoring the original windows, painting the building, rehanging doors, refurbishing toilet ceramics, and replacing lighting.

SWR says that when the work is completed, it will allow the Friends of Bitterne Station to expand their activities, ensuring a lasting legacy for the station and the local community.

A video tour of the restored ticket office by Hampshire Community Rail Partnership’s Director is above, or on Youtube here.

Many spaces on the SWR network, from storage areas to large rooms, need transformation. These projects often require significant investment and third-party funding. SWR’s teams are open to discussing ideas with groups interested in reviving these areas.

Mark Miller, Hampshire Community Rail Partnership’s Director, said: “Together with our funding and contributions from the Railway Heritage Trust, along with fantastic input from the Bitterne Station Adoption Group, we have managed to develop an amazing partnership approach to bringing this property back into everyday use for the community.”

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A mosaic for the station buidling under construction by the Friends group in 2023

Paula Aldridge, South Western Railway’s Community Rail Manager, added: “We’ve been so impressed by the work done using old station buildings and spaces, including the ongoing project at Bitterne, and we’d love to see more of the same at other stations with unused buildings and spaces.”

She encouraged interested parties to contact her about potential opportunities.

Included in a list of station buildings in SWR’s area possibly open for adoption is a former waiting room and WCs at St Denys Station.

The Friends of Bitterne Station meet every third Sunday of the month between 11am and 1pm: more info here.

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