BURY St Edmunds railway station has had a £150,000 makeover and gained new friends to help look after it.
As well as ensuring the station stays smart, the Friends of Bury St Edmunds Station want to help people appreciate its place in railway history.
As part of the Department for Transport’s Access for All scheme, National Express East Anglia has improved the booking hall by removing an old parcel office to create about a third more space and upgraded the decor and lighting.
Staircases to platforms have non-slip treads, better handrails and tactile paving to let those with sight impairments know they are approaching them.
The station toilets have been improved and information screens and better CCTV coverage have been installed.
Unveiling a plaque to mark the upgrade, St Edmundsbury’s mayor Christopher Spicer said he had travelled from the station at the beginning of December and was amazed at what had been done since then.
“I’ve been all the way across Europe from this station,” he said, recalling a student trip.
Andrew Goodrum, customer service director for National Express East Anglia, said: “I welcome the positive input we have received from the Friends of Bury St Edmunds Station community group and I look forward to their continued participation at the station.”
The friends are chaired by Alan Jary, chairman of the Bury Society, who said they would help to ensure the station’s condition did not slip back and would encourage further improvements.
“This is a very good start to what we hope will become an ongoing process,” he said. “It’s something we’ll be able to enhance with our sister group Bury in Bloom. We hope to put history boards in the station.”
Friends member Paul Elkin, retired curator of Bristol Industrial and Maritime Museum, stressed the station’s links to the pioneers of railway expansion.
“I was involved with the restoration of Bristol Temple Meads, which Brunel opened in 1841,” he said. “This was only five years later and the consulting engineer for the Eastern Union Railway was Joseph Locke. Stephenson, Brunel and Locke were the preeminent railway engineers.”
Bury station was a terminus for the Bury to Ipswich Railway, which was almost immediately taken into the Eastern Union, which became the Great Eastern Railway in 1862. The building was designed by Cambridge architect Sancton Wood.