A special event is being held in Emsworth today to mark the 165th anniversary of the opening of the town’s train station and its new refurbishment.
The train station has gone through a sympathetic restoration of its waiting room – an area not seen by rail users for decades – and the addition of a new platform toilet.
Work is also taking place to add a ramp to the eastern platform, the lack of which has caused havoc for years for anyone in a wheelchair or travelling with a pushchair.
There are two waiting rooms that have been opened up on the westbound platform. The smaller one will be home to a new shop selling coffee and cakes, while the larger one with its original Victorian wooden floor and benches, will be a traditional waiting room, complete with a table and magazines.
The changes have come about after hard work and lots of lobbying from Emsworth Residents’ Association and its chairman Lorraine Clode, who admits she had a bee in her bonnet about it.
“I don’t see why Emsworth should be at a disadvantage to every other station,” she said.
“Being the gateway to Emsworth, it let the town down.
“After years of Emsworth being at the end of the line in terms of investment, all of a sudden we have come to the top of the list.
“The waiting room was shut many years ago because of vandalism, that’s what the rumour is.
“You can see how lovely it is with the original benches, and original floor – everything there is original.”
The ramp has been a bone of contention for years, and has come about after funds were freed up by Southern Railway because of a project that was cancelled elsewhere.
“People have had to go to the next station on the other side of the station to go down the line to come back, that’s how stupid it’s been,” she said.
The lack of a toilet has also caused problems, especially as some of the trains going along the south coast no longer have toilets on board.
She said: “I had a bee in my bonnet about it, so I met with Southern Railway and I learned that the trains coming through here would no longer have toilets, and so that got to me.
“I don’t regard having a public toilet at a railway station a luxury when you can’t use the train.
Emsworth Primary School pupils were involved with the revamp as they helped plant the flower boxes on the windows. Havant mayor Ken Smith will open the new facilities 165 years to the day that the station opened today, March 15.