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SOUTH DEVON RAILWAY Littlehempston wins another award

Volunteer workers at the South Devon Railway are celebrating success after winning a prestigious, national heritage railway “Oscar” yesterday (6/12/06) for their sterling efforts in building a Great Western Railway style station at Totnes, also known as Littlehempston.
Totnes Littlehempston Running in board RJE

The much sought after 2006 “GNER Volunteers Award” came from the National Railway Heritage Awards (NRHA) body which aims to encourage high standards of restoration and environmental care of railway structures.

Axbridge canopy and the SDRA (London Group) designed toilet block RJE

Three members of the SDR’s Littlehempston team travelled to London to receive their surprise ‘gong’ at a special ceremony at the Merchant Taylors’ Hall on Wednesday 6 December.
Presented by well known career railwayman and Chairman of the Railway Forum, Chris Green, the South Devon Railway’s volunteers not only won the “GNER Volunteers Award” but also received a £1,000 cheque, the only cash award made this year.

Chris Mackenzie-Thorpe and Alan Lovegrove with the award (and Brunel !).
Citation reads: “for the completion of the 15-year project to faithfully create a Great Western Railway style station as their new southern terminus at Totnes (Littlehempston).

Just ten national awards are made every year by the NRHA so the competition between the 200 heritage railways in the country is fierce, making the SDR’s achievement all the more commendable. 

Commenting about winning the award, Littlehempston Station Group Chairman Allan Lovegrove said: “When Chris Mackenzie-Thorpe, Geoff Howells and I went to London to the NRHA ceremony this week, we really had no idea we would carry off one of the top awards. 

“Initially, we were all gob-smacked but then absolutely elated after the Judges named Littlehempston and the South Devon Railway as the winner of the GNER Volunteers Award. We are simply thrilled and it's been a great team effort.

“Our 25 strong group has worked really hard to make Littlehempston look like it's always been there as a railway station, and it's the second award we’ve won for what's been achieved by so many dedicated people over the years, including some who are sadly no longer with us.

“When the judges came around the station earlier this year, one of the comments was that the plastic sheet glazing in part of the station canopy and toilet roof was not really in keeping with what the original building would have looked like. As a result, we're going to spend some of the £1,000 prize putting that right and anything left on making sure that Littlehempston is even more genuine!”

Work actually started to recreate the SDR’s Littlehempston station at Totnes some 25 years ago. A derelict timber station building at Toller Porcorom in West Dorset was bought, dismantled, repaired and then re-erected to form the nucleus of the new station by the London Group of what is now the South Devon Railway Association.
SDR General Manager Richard Elliott said: “This award is another big feather in the South Devon Railway's cap, and a just reward for all of the hard effort and dedication that our volunteers put into running the railway. 
“The South Devon Railway is going from strength to strength every year now and, at Littlehempston, we have created a living country station that exudes much of the charm and character once seen on the old GWR system.
“The late Bill Wright and Les Hawkins, who were both really instrumental in the early days of this project but sadly died before Littlehempston was completed, would both have been very proud of this achievement, so this award is for their memory too.”

The structures that now make up Totnes Littlehempston Station comprise the following: Station building from Toller Porcorum on the GWR Bridport branch; Canopy from Axbridge GWR Station, Somerset; Corrugated iron hut from Bovey Tracey Station on the GWR Moretonhampstead branch; Lamp hut from next to the site of the original GWR Ashburton Junction Signal Box; Ashburton Junction Signal Box from Cradley Heath, Birmingham; Fencing and other railway fittings from throughout the former GWR system; Toilets constructed new but on a design based on GWR Toller Porcorum Station with no structural nails or screws; Water crane from Leominster GWR station.

The proud Totnes Group in front of the former Toller Station building CMT
Photographs:  JRE Richard Elliott
CMT Chris Mackenzie–Thorpe

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