Published 14th December 2012
The annual Railway Heritage Awards (RHA) were announced, and presentations made at the Merchant Taylor’s Hall in London recently. The awards are decided by a panel of anonymous judges in 12 categories, each sponsored by a railway organisation. They are made in recognition of outstanding achievements on the railways, including preserved lines, and former railway buildings.
The Ian Allen Publishing “Heritage Railway of the Year” award, was awarded to the Epping Ongar Railway (EOR) following the restoration of the line, resumption of passenger services and the return of steam services in May 2012.
The EOR’s Managing Director Roger Wright and General Manager Simon Hanney collected their ceremonial plaque from former British Rail Board member and current National Trust Chairman, Simon Jenkins.
The EOR was also awarded the Volunteers’ Award recognising the quality of the restoration carried out at Ongar Station. This was built in 1865 and is a Grade II listed building and the work included restoring of the Footwarmer Hut, Porters Room and the signalbox structure (the top half formally from Spellbrook), back to its former Great Eastern Railway period.
David McAdams, Chairman of Epping Ongar Railway Volunteers Society said “We are delighted that EOR has been chosen as the winner of the Heritage Railway of the Year award. Our Volunteers have given millions of hours of hard work, to return our railway to its’ former glory, and this award is a fitting tribute to their efforts.”
Roger Wright, Managing Director neatly summed; “Epping Ongar Railway is overwhelmed to have received these prestigious awards during our first operating season and it is most gratifying for our volunteers and staff to see their hard work and dedication recognised.”
The North Yorkshire Moors Railway (NYMR) received the award for the best overall entry in the competition for the “Train of Thought” project after restoring Pickering station to its former glory. The project was centred around the re-instatement of the original 1846 station roof but dismantled by British Railways 60 years ago. The project commenced in 2009 and project completion was achieved in June 2012.
The project had a strong educational focus, based on the NYMR’s long history as one of the country’s oldest passenger railways, heavily supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Yorkshire Forward. A visitor centre was created in the former pump room, and a new two storey building built in keeping with the original design, houses an archive and learning centre. The provision of an adjoining picnic area incorporates original canopies from Church Fenton station.
Philip Benham, General Manager said “The North Yorkshire Moors Railway is overjoyed with this major award which is a great way to end the year. I wish to pay particular tribute to Bryan Draper, secretary of our parent body, the North York Moors Historical Railway Trust, without whose patient work to bring together a funding package, the project would never have got off the ground. Bryan has continued to be a guiding hand throughout the three year construction period.”
The reinstatement of The Great Central Railway’s (GCR) Swithland Sidings and associated signalling project was awarded the Signalling Award. The award followed the culmination of the ambitious multi-million pound double track project and the signalbox at Swithland was commissioned last summer, two decades after it was proposed by the projects main sponsor, the late David Clarke.
At Swithland, an impressive complex of loops and sidings has been installed together with a restored signalbox and fully signalled. Trains can now, not only pass each other heading in opposite directions, but slower trains can be put into loops to allow faster services to ‘overtake’.
Managing Director of the Great Central Railway Bill Ford said, “We are immensely proud to collect this award. It is a tribute to our team who completed the project to such a high standard, the fundraisers who helped make it a reality and most of all to the late David Clarke, the man who inspired and provided a large amount of funding for the project.
He had a passion for signalling and while he never lived to see Swithland Signalbox commissioned, I am sure he would have been extremely impressed. His vision of a preserved two track main line is now an educational legacy for future generations.”
The Talyllyn Railway based Narrow Gauge Railway Museum won the Supporters Award for their restoration of the wagon weighbridge at Tywyn. The organisation only entered the competition following news that this year the judges were seeking applications from smaller projects as well as better known larger schemes.
The scale and ambition of two projects forced the judging panel to make two special ‘Chairman’s’ awards which both featured major multi-million pound railway restorations. The decade-long Forth Bridge restoration and repainting project completion was the recipient of one of these special awards made jointly to Balfour Beattie Engineering Ltd and to Network Rail (NR). The other chairman’s award was made to The Manhattan Loft Corporation for their work since 2004 at St. Pancras in creating their Renaissance Hotel as a backdrop to the European rail terminal.
Network Rail collected another award for the restoration of the century-old Grade 1 listed Span 4 from demolition. The HS1 Environment Award was made to NR in recognition of the stunning renovation creating a light and airy passenger environment at the station.
A new local pub pulled the Conservation award for the best restored listed structure. Better known for its former use as home to a model railway at York station, Pivovar Tap Ltd has restored the former Edwardian tea room to a new bar area while retaining the period features.
London Underground restored the 1906 built Lambeth North Underground station and landed the Craft Skills Award for what was described as the meticulous detailed work carried out on the station’s facade.
Perhaps reflecting their extensive historic railway portfolio, NR also walked away with the Operational Environment Award for the restoration of the overall station roof at Paisley Gilmore Street and the Restoration Award for repairs made to the canopies at Melton Mowbray combined with new disabled access and footbridge.
The restoration of Burntisland Station platform building in Fife attracted the Network Rail Partnership Award following work done by The Fife Historic Buildings Trust. The pretty much derelict building has been restored and brought back into use housing business units.