Pruning Session

In preparation for some exciting work to install new bed edging we decided to give the larger shrubs, hedges and trees on platform 3/4 North some dedicated pruning. Within 2 hours we had generated 19 bags of green waste – a new record! All that hard work was rewarded with coffee at Marchio’s cafe on platform 2.

This work will hopefully allow the contractors to install the sleepers without having to chop anything back. See below for a sneak preview of the edging going in..

The spoils of a pruning session

Outing to Hatfield House

Last week the All Aboarders volunteers took a trip to visit the gardens at Hatfield House. We chose to visit on a Thursday as the usually private East Garden can be accessed that day. A number of us took advantage of the quick train from Welwyn Garden City and then started the day with a coffee at the Stable Yard shops.

The All Aboarders at the Elephant Dell

There are many gardens and areas to explore around Hatfield Park but the group favourite seemed to be the Elephant Dell. This is a quiet area in the East garden with impressive life sized elephant sculptures formed from welded horseshoes. They have winter jasmine growing through them which must look stunning in flower.

The Sundial garden by the Old Palace has a complex and interesting sundial with directions to places all around the world. Unfortunately we didn’t have strong enough sun to use it!

We bumped into a number of automatic lawnmowers keeping the grass under control all around the park, and met the head vegetable gardener (Bill or Ben? Spot him in the photos below).

Everyone had a lovely day out and we are looking forward to organising more trips for the group in future.

Photo Display at WGC Station

The All Aboarders have installed a display of heritage photos in the Waiting Room on Platform 3 at WGC Station. A display of 12 photos includes different views of the main station from soon after it was opened in 1926 to the when the Booking Hall was demolished in the late 1980’s.

Colin Bifield, AA Vice-Chairman says “We want to show how the station looked in the 1920’s and 1930’s, through to a view of the ticket office shortly before it was demolished. The photos complement the Heritage poster which is also displayed in the waiting room. There are other photos of the railway in the local area. We hope that the display will be interesting to those passengers who remember the old station and to those passengers currently using the station. We intend change the display from time to time, as more photos become available.”

If you have access to any photos that may be of interest, please contact Colin on 07855 876732.

Pride Month 🏳️‍🌈

The GTR properties team paid WGC station a visit to install a special feature to celebrate LGBT+ Pride this month. The bench surrounding the raised bed on platforms 1/2 North has been painted with the the rainbow flag colours to boldly show support for the community from GTR, WGC station staff and volunteers.

After a beautiful display of tulips followed by poppies, the All Aboarders team have recently added multi coloured dahlias to this bed to complement the paintwork. The dahlia tubers were overwintered by the volunteers after being lifted from WHBC town centre beds and donated to us for use.

A Surprise Visit

During a regular Thursday work party in May the team were delighted to have a visitor. Jenny Saunders the GTR Customer Service Director happened to be passing through WGC station so stopped to chat and show her appreciation. We would like to thank Jenny for taking the time to engage with us and for her lovely words below.

Jenny chats with Lynda and the team

“It was really lovely to bump into the All Aboarders during my recent station visit to Welwyn Garden City. The hard work, dedication and passion from the group is obvious to see and the planting and flowers all look amazing. I’d like to thank the entire team for all that they do to make the station a great place for our customers and colleagues.”

Jenny Saunders, GTR Customer Service Director

Throughout May the work parties weeded, dead headed and pruned back the winter and early spring displays. The tulips have really shone out during this time and were thoroughly admired.

Spring at the Station

As coronavirus restrictions ease we are able to resume gardening once more in small groups. We were pleased to find spring flowers in abundance and fresh growth peeping through. The tulip and hyacinth bulbs were donated by Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council as surplus stock. The teams pruned and weeded the beds ready for new planting schemes to go in later in the year.

All Aboard! – A community rail poem

As part of the online Community Rail Awards, the Bard of Barnsley – Ian McMillan – composed a poem which captures the spirit of community rail.

All Aboard!

Never a one-way ticket, always a first-class return,
On the investment of time and expertise, on these lines that help us to learn,
That people are what make a railway, more than a platform and seats,
More than the timetable, people, are what make a railway complete.

Always, the whistle is blowing, as the ideas they never end,
Of station adoption and colourful gardens, you see as the train rounds the bend,
Of cafes and signboards and benches, communities showing the face,
Of a station to those who pass through it, who think ‘well… this must be a place’,
Where marvellous changes can happen, in this vortex of coming and going,
There’s culture and learning and grand cups of tea, and the ideas just keep on flowing.

So, here’s to the folk who make all this tick, the grafters, the workers, and those,
Who volunteer from the first train till last, who dig out the raised beds and put on the shows,
Who spend endless weekends in gardening clothes, and go home with traces of muck on their nose,
And this is a glimpse of what railways could be, the heart and the centre, the hub,
A welcoming smile that says come on in, and let’s all be part of this club.

Now it’s time for the awards, let the champagne get poured,
And let’s shout our motto, all aboard… ALL ABOARD

© Ian McMillan 2020

WGC Station Heritage Space

As we go through the winter months and gardening takes backstage there is an opportunity to think about how we can help to improve the station in other ways.

We are delighted with the transformation of the Waiting Room on Platform 3 now that the Heritage and Interpretation Posters are in place.

Heritage railway posters in the waiting room

The frames,  being painted a heritage green to match the station repainting, have enhanced the overall effect.  

Many thanks to GTR and Karen Sherwin, our station manager, for their provision and installation. Also to Peter Wayne, chair of the WGC Centenary Foundation, for the ‘virtual unveiling’ of the posters.

Our aim is to make the waiting rooms more interesting places to wait.

We would like to create a exhibition areas for displaying collections of old photographs related to the station and railway.

This is where your help is needed. If you have any old photographs that we could use (or know someone who does) please get in touch.

Twelfth Night

A very happy new year to all our volunteers, sponsors and supporters! I wish health and happiness to all during these trying times.

In the tradition of twelfth night the WGC station Christmas decorations have been put away and the tree put outside.. No, not to the kerbside for the wood chipper, but planted in a station bed! We are pleased to have had a potted living tree that we hope to reuse for many years, minimising our carbon impact.

Although we are not meeting to garden at this current time, a quick inspection of the station found these cheerful blue primulas and pink cyclamen.

2020 in Review

Lynda Cowan looks back at 2020 for the All Aboarders.

What a year it has been.

Despite the setbacks, gardening continued at the station within the restrictions and with just one lengthy break between March and July so passengers and staff were still able to enjoy our efforts.

Our AGM in February was well attended. We now have 10 members on the committee.  As Coronavirus struck almost immediately afterwards the Committee members agreed to continue in their roles.

We were delighted that the gardens continued to flourish for some time. It was wonderful that Kath, an NHS essential worker and commuter, kept us updated by taking lovely photographs through the spring and early summer and posting them on our All Aboarders Facebook Page.

When gardening resumed within Covid-19 rules in July we had to replace the plants in most of our troughs. The team responded wonderfully and soon the gardens were back to their former glory.

In July our new Station Manager, Karen Sherwin arrived. Her commitment and support has been greatly appreciated.  Since she arrived many improvements have been made – adding lighting to our shed, installing our Bug City and Heritage Posters and leaflet racks in the Waiting Rooms.

Once again we were able take play our part in the Plant Rescue Scheme with dahlias, senecio angel wings and salvias from Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council who also kindly supplied winter and spring bedding from their surplus.

Thank you to all our sponsors and supporters – and especially, during the current year, to GTR for their continued funding, to all the staff at WGC Station, to County Councillors Barbara Gibson and Nigel Quentin for  Locality Grants,  to Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council for their surplus bedding plants, to Prestige Barn for the gift of Bug City and to WGC Rotary Club members for joining us in gardening sessions.

Finally thanks to all our gardening volunteers, 24 in total now, who gave over 285 hours during the year to keep our station gardens looking so amazing.  New gardeners are always welcome!

Much more was planned for 2020 particularly as we aimed to celebrate the Centenary of Welwyn Garden City but are looking forward to catching up in 2021.