Through our parent organisation the Hampshire Community Rail Partnership we have begun to lease spare rooms and buildings at stations specifically with a view to creating space for community usage. This has been facilitated by South Western Railway and the Community Rail Network who have identified buildings across Hampshire which are not commercially viable but could become community assets. These have then been offered to us at peppercorn rents.
Examples of what we have taken on under this scheme are:
- Petersfield Old Parcels Office. We have created here a multi-use community space incorporating:
- a regular Free Shop facility for distributing out of date but edible food to avoid food waste,
- a summer season travel and tourism information hub providing details about rail, bus, cycle and walking in the South Downs National Park
- a choir and play rehearsal space
- a sustainable bag workshop area
- community meeting room
- Woolston Community Garden, Southampton. We took over a disused space and have created a thriving garden and allotment. We hold regular open days to encourage local residents to enjoy this facility
- Netley History Room. A redundant waiting room was reopened and handed to the Hound History Society who have provided a spectacular display of information about the local area and in particular the nearby Royal Victoria Military Hospital. The group then holds Public Open Days from time to time.
- Swaythling Community Rooms, Southampton. We have leased 2 rooms inside the station with a view to creating community meeting rooms, which can also be used as Free Shops, jumble sale venues, local history archives and community café.
In the future we have plans to take leases on:
Romsey stationmaster’s House, Romsey old café, Bitterne station booking office, Woolston station old booking office, Woolston Signal Box, Shawford station booking office, Netley Waiting Shelter and many more; all with a view of creating community mixed use space.
If you would like to become involved in any of these projects or indeed have an idea for any station in Hampshire please let us know.
Community spaces at stations can be used for any ad hoc or longer term non-profit activity in return for a small donation to cover our running costs. Other ideas we are looking into include: promotional opportunities for organisations, meeting rooms and hot desking facilities, hosting of exhibitions and holding small fund raising events. In fact, the list is endless……