Friends of Gillingham Station (FOGS) celebrate success at the Community Rail Awards scooping third place for their POP-UP Birthday event


Rail Minister Celebrates Success at Community Rail Awards!

pop-up-becci-with-cakes-2Friends of Gillingham Station hosted a successful POP-UP Birthday event at Gillingham Station to mark the 90th birthday of HM The Queen and also the 160th year of the founding of the Salisbury to Yeovil Railway Line. The Mayor of Gillingham opened the event which attracted hundreds of people. The programme of events included music from Gillingham Imperial Silver Band, a Mini pop-up Museum, model train display, steam road engine, plant stalls, games for all and complimentary refreshments and celebratory birthday cake.

Rail Minister Paul Maynard MP opened the Community Rail Awards in Southport on Thursday 29th September 2016 where Great Western Railway and their Community Rail Partnerships scooped the top prize as Overall Winners.

In his speech the Rail Minister said: “Across the country we have seen the positive benefits that an active Community Rail Partnership can deliver. Neglected, low usage lines and tired rural stations are being replaced with vibrant community centres, independent cafes, book clubs, safety programmes for children, fabulous station art, line guides, shelters, seating, tourist information and even a return to traditional heritage style livery and signs on some stations. I want to ensure that there is long term funding available for partnerships so they can plan effectively for the future which is why we are making sure that Community Rail is getting a record level of funding and the recognition it deserves in all future rail franchises.”

All category winners are listed below and full details of all winners and runners up projects/people can be seen in the Winners’ booklet

ACRP Community Rail Awards 2016 (248 downloads)

The night was hosted by General Manager of ACoRP, Neil Buxton, with the awards presentations being made by the Managing Director of Merseyrail, Jan Chaudhry-van der Velde and Managing Director of Northern, Alex Hynes. Neil Buxton said “We would like to congratulate all the winners, they are all very well deserved!” he added “We would also like to acknowledge all the runners up and shortlisted projects” More than 400 guests attended the gala dinner at the Floral Hall where they helped to raise £1724 during the entertaining charity fundraising parts of the evening, with a range of great prizes being donated by several attending organisations. Alzheimers Research UK and Cancer Research UK are to share the funds.

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NATIONAL RAIL AWARDS 2016: Small station of the year Winner: Templecombe

Templecombe 2

Templecombe station, on the London Waterloo-Exeter line, embodies what the can be achieved through a successful partnership between the railway and the local community.

There has been a determined attitude, combined with a creative desire, to improve the station. The village’s desire has been to hold onto history while at the same time recognising the involvement of Network Rail and the operator South West Trains. Closed in 1966, the station re-opened in 1983 after much pressure from the Templecombe Station Working Committee. Since then there has been a new waiting room opened as well as gardens and the installation of a second-hand footbridge.

Six years ago a new group of volunteers, the Friends of Templecombe Station (FoTS) was formed to take on the responsibility, mainly, of the gardens. But they also gave added value to the whole station and helped SWT to promote the line. The National Rail Awards Judges have dubbed the FoTS the station’s secret. FoTS members regularly attend the station, and have become an active voice for passengers with queries, complaints and compliments being passed onto the station manager or health and safety Officer.

Expansion came five years who when NR built a new platform for the Access for All programme once the signal box had been closed as part of the route modernisation programme. Following discussions regarding the footbridge, it was agreed that FoTS would support the railway by caring for the gardens, a redundant waiting room, shelter and the signal box too.

The volunteers raised money to buy timber and paint to renovate the buildings and it was agreed these could be repainted into historic Southern Railway colours of green and bamboo. SWT has since reimbursed the FoTS for the cost of the paint and plants to show the strength of the partnership. At the start of 2016, a major breakthrough involved the tri-partite agreement for the railway to supply a supervisor, some scaffolding and a cherrypicker, plus paint, to support FoTS plans to repaint the footbridge that become an eyesore, creating a poor visual impression of the station, railway and village.

Volunteers began work in February this year, and again agreement was reached for the former SR colours to be applied. Apart from the safety-critical part of the structure over the running lines, the bridge was repainted by volunteers, who then also painted the bollards and light columns in the car park. SWT’s staff member in the ticket office is also appreciated by passengers for her advice and support. She provides magazines for passengers, helps tend to plants donated by the station manager and is a goldmine of local and knowledge both for the area and the railway.

Local business has also got involved through publicity and sponsorship of printing station calendars that have proven a lucrative fund-raising source. Others have funded plants and manufacturing cushions for the waiting room. All this has created a modern station building built by NR that is supported by improved gardens and a renovated footbridge. Maintenance is shared by the FoTS and railway staff.

Judges’ comments:

The judges found Templecombe a delight to visit, with the best community garden display of all the stations visited.

“The station’s secret is a remarkably active Friends of Templecombe Station group which has gone beyond gardening to work with local staff to improve the overall station environment. They campaigned successfully to get the footbridge painted and have helped to preserve the listed signalbox and a waiting room for a display on the station’s history.”

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Messums Wiltshire announces the opening of new commercial and educative arts space for the South West of England


Messums Wiltshire announces, the opening on 24 & 25 September of a new commercial and educative arts space for the South West of England located in historic landmark building. Messums Wiltshire is delighted to announce the opening on the 24 and 25 September 2016, of a new commercial centre for art and design, performance and education, on the edge of the historic Wiltshire village of Tisbury.

The exhibition space, bar, café and shop are located in the tithe barn on the medieval site of Place Farm, Tisbury, Wiltshire. Built in 1279 by the Abbess of Shaftesbury, the grade 1 listed building, is classified as the largest of its type in the country and one of the largest thatched buildings in England. After a 3 year extensive restoration programme to save the building from virtual collapse, it is now open to the public for the first time in its 700-year history.

The Barn is a striking and well known landmark in the area and the opening of Messums Wiltshire provides not only a relevant use of an historic building but also a unique context for artists and visitors alike to experience art and the creative instinct.

The vision of Johnny Messum, the project has come to fruition through the collaborative spirit of like-minded people from the locality. The intention is that Messums Wiltshire will become a cultural destination in the South West, with a diverse all year round calendar of exhibitions, performance, special events, talks and an arts education programme for children and young people. It seeks to make the diverse languages of the visual arts, accessible and inclusive to the broadest possible range of audiences.

Inaugural Exhibition
Messums Wiltshire is proud to announce Bronze and Stone, as its inaugural exhibition. The exhibition brings together the work of 3 internationally recognised sculptors all who live and work the South West. It presents 15 classically timeless monumental sculptures, in stone and bronze initiating a powerful response to the space, history and legacy of the building. The work of Tim Harrisson, Bridget McCrum and Dominic Welch is an exploration and interpretation of the landscape, the natural life within it and the geological and historical archaeology of place and time. It includes the work, The Hurdcott Stone, 2012, by Tim Harrisson, carved from sandstone from the local Chicksgrove quarry – the same stone
that built the walls of the barn in the 13th century.

Opening Weekend 24 & 25 September 2016

The weekend is an invitation to all to come and join us to celebrate the opening of Messums Wiltshire at the tithe barn. The Barn and the beauty of the surrounding landscape provide an inspirational backdrop for visitors to experience art and the creative instinct. The weekend offers the opportunity to explore the processes of making, visit the exhibition

The weekend offers the opportunity to explore the processes of making, visit the exhibition Bronze and Stone, watch dancer, turned performance ceramicist, Stephanie Bottle and award winning master wood turner Robin Wood. Or sign up to The Big Draw, the world’s largest drawing festival for 4 – 18 year old and play around with some giant games in the courtyard. And not forgetting the musical arts, we are very lucky to have Kadia the young, creative and acclaimed folk band from Bournemouth playing in our ‘Beach tent’ on Sunday.

Stop and enjoy specialist coffee from local Barista, The Italian Connection who has created a unique Barn Blend. Tisbury based Copper Box Bar Company will be serving our house “Porter’s Perfection Pommes” made with apple vodka from Dorset based producer, Liberty Fields, who use Fonthill water in their brewing.

From their Dorset Vineyards Langham Wine will provide sparkle with their prize winning sparkling wines. And our very own Beam Bar will be supplied by Tisbury’s Beckford Bottle Shop. Pizza over the weekend comes from 2 local enterprises Hidden Pizza and The Big Bang Pizza with ice cream from Frew & Co creating their very original artisan Thai ice cream.

Hours for the Opening Weekend 24 & 25 September

Free Admission

Saturday 24 September 12.30pm – 6.00pm

Sunday 25 September 11.00am – 5.00 pm

Parking and Disabled Access available

For travel information please visit the website:

Messums Wiltshire opening hours from 28 September 2016

Free admission

The centre will be open throughout the year with free admission to the public


Wednesday – Saturday 10.00 am – 5.00 pm

Sunday 10.00 am – 4.00 pm

Parking and disabled access available.

For travel information please visit the website:

Contact details: For further information, or high res images, please contact:

Johnny Messum:

Tel: 07971676451

Email: [email protected]

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Website development progress report 16/09/2016

Development of the website has been progressing smoothly. You may have noticed the Twitter sidebar appear on the left. This has now been successfully linked to the Blackmore Vale CRP twitter account. Additionally, further development of the Stations page has been made, including the creation of pages for each of the six stations, as well as links to them. There has also been the incorporation of the Google Maps API, which through some development behind the scenes will hopefully become a useful tool for visitors. More developments are to follow.

-Phillip Bell.