WITH its bright, blooming flower beds, green grass and tidy platforms, Dronfield railway station looks good.
But it could have been a different story, were it not for a dedicated of a team of volunteers.
For years, Dronfield suffered from a skeleton train service and a dilapidated railway station.
However, in 2006, a group of villagers decided enough was enough and formed the Friends of Dronfield Station, with a mission to restore it.
“Six years on, it has been transformed – and has just been crowned the Association of Community Rail Partnerships’ best station garden – the annual award aims to recognise the unsung heroes of the UK’s community rail world.
On top of this, the group scooped two gongs at this year’s Sheffield Telegraph environment awards and their efforts have helped increase the number of passengers using the station from 12,000 in 2004/2005 to 144,000 last year.
Peter Hayward, group chairman, said: “Hard work by volunteers has restored and extended the station garden to create an attractive oasis which is widely regarded as a welcoming gateway of which the town and local community are justifiably proud.”
Green-fingered group members have installed a rustic bench, restored coal mining truck and created a patriotic floral display in red, white and blue colours.
A second area, the triangle, a section of Network Rail-controlled land, has also been cleared and planted to create a wild flower meadow.
Volunteers give up their spare time to keep the station looking good and their work, along with lobbying from Natascha Engel, Labour MP for North East Derbyshire, has helped ensure the new Nottingham to Leeds train service calls at Dronfield hourly.
Roger Slee, a volunteer with the friends group, said: “When the group got together, we wanted to get more trains through the station.
“However, we began to realise we also wanted to make the station a pleasant environment.
“I think it’s great we have won best station garden in the UK.
“Dronfield used to make railway lines, so I am proud the group have helped to bring back trains as they’re part of its history.”