Emsworth railway station back on track

Emsworth put on a birthday party to remember for its 165-year-old train station on the day its waiting room was re-opened after decades behind locked doors.

The double celebration took place on March 15 – 165 years to the day Emsworth train station was opened on the south coast line as well as Bosham and Havant.

It also marked re-opening of the station’s waiting room on the westbound platform which has not been seen by the public for more than 20 years after vandalism forced it to be shut.

But after a lot of hard graft by Emsworth Residents Association (ERA) it has been sympathetically restored to its original Victorian state including the original benches and wooden flooring.

A toilet has also been added for the first time.

The mayor of Havant Borough Council, Ken Smith cut the ribbon, flanked by pupils from Emsworth Primary School who turned up in period dress to hand out homemade sandwiches, as well as George’s Regis Jazz Band which provided the entertainment.

Chairman of the ERA Lorraine Clode was the driving force behind the project.

“It’s a very joyful day,” she said. “It’s celebrating not only the birthday of the station, but reopening rooms that will benefit the community.

“I think we have done the station proud.”

The mayor said: “It’s about time we got some character back into our railway stations rather than the bland old things we have had to put up with over the years.

“A station like this is a pleasure to use.”

There are two waiting rooms at present, with the larger one to be used for its original purpose, whereas the smaller one will be occupied by a takeaway shop selling cakes and drinks.

Southern Railway station group manager for the Chichester area, Terry Green, said: “The reason why we started this is because of Lorraine’s influence, and everybody has been so keen.

“From my experience there has not been as much interest in a project as this.”

The scheme has cost around £25,000, with most of the cash coming from Southern Railway, as well as contributions from SEEDA, the Residents’ Association and Hampshire County Council.

Southern Railway is also involved in adding a ramp to the eastbound platform which at present is inaccessible to wheelchair users or parents with pushchairs, who have to travel west to Havant to cross over the bridge before coming back again.