Fab four battle it out to be pride of South West and the region’s champion in World Cup of Stations
- We need your support to help Liskeard, Yatton, Okehampton or Penmere be crowned the best-loved station in the World Cup of Stations 2023
- TV presenter Tim Dunn chose the fab four among 48 stations from across Britain and they compete in a series of online public votes
- You can take part via #WorldCupofStations or @RailDeliveryGrp on twitter or vote online at raildeliverygroup.com/WorldCupOfStations
- The South West is one of four regions to battle it out on Monday 22 May in a bid to reach the final on Friday 26 May and be crowned champion
- The tournament will showcase Community Rail and the benefits the railway brings to residents, the environment and the local economy
Four train stations across the South West need your support as they battle it out for a place in the final to be crowned ‘The UK’s best loved station’ and winner of World Cup of Stations 2023, the competition hosted by the Rail Delivery Group in partnership with the Community Rail Network.
This year’s competition takes place during Community Rail Week (22-26 May), shining a spotlight on the work of dedicated volunteers who support our stations through Community Rail, and celebrating the benefits the railway brings to communities, the environment and the local economy.
The four stations nominated in the South West are all managed by Great Western Railway.
Liskeard station, junction for the scenic Looe Valley Line to Looe, was originally two separate stations, run by two separate companies.
The main line station was opened by the Cornwall Railway in 1859, with the line from Plymouth to Truro. The Liskeard & Looe Railway arrived in 1901 with a completely separate station, at right angles to the main line.
This later station was the ‘St Pancras’ of the small railway company and its building survives intact to this day, on what is now Platform 3. A project led by Cornwall County Council fully refurbished the building in 2004.
Later, in 2019, with the help of funding from GWR and the Community Rail Development Fund, the Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership enhanced the heritage of this historic building by installing period posterboards telling the story of the branch line in the sheltered waiting area. It also turned three long disused rooms into the Looe Valley Line Heritage Centre.
The old ticket office still has its original ticket hatch and a replica period ticket office has been recreated around it, with panels in the ticket office drawers telling the story of how rail travel was sold.
Also in the Heritage Centre is a replica of the Looe Signalbox nameboard and a traditional GWR waiting room bench, plus other displays on the history of the station and railway to Looe.
Sitting on the Bristol to Exeter line, Yatton station offers a warm welcome to passengers and visitors alike. The platform buildings are of Brunel style, and it is widely believed the great man himself designed them.
The popular Strawberry Line Café and Cycle Hire is a not-for-profit Community Interest Company based within the station building, serving delicious refreshments throughout the day while offering paid employment and training to local young people with additional needs.
The station is a hub of activity and a shining example of Community Rail at its best. The GWR team in the booking office work closely with the station garden volunteers to ensure planters are kept hydrated throughout the warmer months. During spring and summer, the specially-chosen pollinators provide a haven for bees and butterflies.
The Strawberry Line Cycle hire is situated next to the cafe, allowing keen cyclists to arrive by train and make use of a bike to continue their adventures down the Strawberry Line Cycle Path to Cheddar.
Since the Dartmoor Line reopened to rail passengers in November 2021, Okehampton station has undergone a meticulous renovation, providing a station fit for modern travellers, while respectfully maintaining the building’s heritage.
The station’s rejuvenation has been a collaborative endeavour, with GWR working with the Devon and Cornwall Rail Partnership, Devon County Council, and the Railway Heritage Trust to make the station a tourism destination in its own right.
Vintage signage, walls painted in iconic green and cream, a recreated period ticket office and original wooden features at the station makes visitors feel like they could be in the 1950s. No attention to detail has been spared.
Now fully open and restored, the welcoming heritage waiting room, shop and café make it hard to want to leave, while the Dartmoor National Park information room reminds you why you came; enticing you to the unmatched moorside that surrounds the picturesque town of Okehampton.
Penmere is a delightful small station in Falmouth. It was opened by the Great Western Railway in 1925 as ‘Penmere Platform’.
It is in a heavily residential area and well used by locals. Unfortunately, it fell into a very poor state in the late 1980s and in 1993, a group of local residents led by Steve Lloyd, decided to form the Friends of Penmere Station and work with the railway to improve the look of the station.
The Friends are still going strong and celebrate their 30th anniversary this August. GWR and the Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership have worked to help and support The Friends, who have been resourceful in attracting support from local companies and others.
The station gardens – the creation of which was led by a retired Falmouth Parks Gardener – are a delight, as are the station signs, being of 1950s BR Western heritage design. It is a small station with a great feel.
More than 100 nominations from across Great Britain were whittled down to 48 by TV presenter Tim Dunn. Stations in the South West will now go head-to-head in a public vote against other regions on Monday 22 May.
The winner of each regional group will go through to the semi-finals on 25 May and the final held on 26 May when the winner will be crowned.
You can vote for Liskeard, Yatton, Okehampton or Penmere on Monday 22 May via #WorldCupofStations at RailDeliveryGrp on Twitter or at www.raildeliverygroup.com/WorldCupOfStations.
Joe Graham, Business Assurance and Strategy Director at Great Western Railway, said:
“The World Cup of Stations is a fantastic way of promoting some of the wonderful destinations on the rail network and we believe Liskeard, Yatton, Okehampton and Penmere are among the very best around.
“World Cup of Stations is also a brilliant way to celebrate Community Rail Week and the great work of our community volunteers. GWR has ten Community Rail Partnerships on our network and we are incredibly proud of the work they do.
“They have great local knowledge and I know that they all work incredibly hard, as volunteers, inspiring sustainable improvements to their community and the local economy.”
Jacqueline Starr, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, said:
“Day in, day out, stations up and down the country are proving to be at the very heart of the communities they serve. During Community Rail Week, we want to shine a light on the very best stations in England, Scotland and Wales.
“All of the stations nominated are making a positive impact on their local community, whether that’s supporting local businesses, being used for a social space or making the local environment better by being more sustainable, whatever they’re doing to make a difference, we want to celebrate.”
Tim Dunn, TV presenter and shortlist judge, said:
“I had the tricky task of selecting the shortlist of 48 stations - tricky, because it represents the work of 48 groups of chuffing ace volunteers.
“The time, energy and love each group gives is because of a love of our shared railway and their communities too. It might seem bonkers, but this competition showcases the hard work of hundreds countrywide, then amplifies and celebrates all in community rail. Remember: like a football World Cup, the winners each day need more and more support - in every battle, it's the one with the most votes who wins!”
Media and Communications Manager
Great Western Railway
0845 410 4444
Notes to editors
Over 1,200 stations across Britain are supported by station adoption groups, made up entirely of volunteers, that help to make stations welcoming and safe, bring people together and add value to their communities.
Often the work of these groups extends beyond basic upkeep, incorporating community gardening and food growing, local arts projects, and workshops and visits with children and young people.
The Rail Delivery Group received more than 100 nominations for stations to feature in this year's competition, recognising the efforts of so many across the country in the following categories:
Creating social spaces – stations rejuvenated by local adoption groups who are creating spaces for the local community
Supporting local business – adoption groups using station spaces to host and celebrate local businesses
Education stations – educational spaces and workshops arranged by adoption groups held in their station
Tourism stations – adoption groups using their station to promote local attractions
Sustainable stations – environmental efforts by local community groups to improve their station’s green credentials
First Greater Western Limited, trading as “Great Western Railway” (GWR), operates trains across the Great Western franchise area, which includes South Wales, the West Country, the Cotswolds, across southern England and into London. GWR provides high speed, commuter, regional and branch line train services, and before the covid-19 pandemic helped over 100 million passengers reach their destinations every year. GWR has been awarded a National Rail Contract to continue operating the Great Western network, which shall run up to 21 June 2025, with the potential for a further three years at the Secretary of State’s discretion. Find out more here: https://www.gwr.com/about-us