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Traditional railway signal box in Willaston restored as 150th anniversary approaches

Further improvements to come at historic former railway station

Deputy Mayor Myles Hogg and former employee Ted Welsh

The grand reopening of a traditional railway signal box at a former station approaching its 150th anniversary took visitors back to a bygone age.

Hadlow Road Station in Willaston originally opened on October 1, 1866 when it was a stop on the single track Hooton to West Kirby branch of the Birkenhead Railway.

The line closed to passengers in 1956 but the station is preserved with a 1950s look and is one of two visitor centres in the Wirral Way country park. Last year a Friends of Hadlow Road Station group was created entirely run by volunteers to work with the borough council to protect and enhance the historic buildings and their surroundings at the station.

What is said to be ‘a significant refurbishment and restoration project of the signal box’ has been undertaken at the end of the station platform to make it safe for viewing and to return it to the appearance of its working condition.

The ceremony was attended by almost 200 visitors from as far away as Southampton with guests including Ellesmere Port deputy mayor Myles Hogg, the ward councillor for Willaston and Thornton and Mr Ted Welsh, celebrating his 94th birthday, who worked at the signal box in 1937.

The grand reopening of the traditional railway signal box at the former Hadlow Road Station

Also present was Mr Wilf Wilson whose endeavours recovered the signal box for reinstatement in the early days of the country park which now occupies the line.

The Scratch Brass Quintet was on the right track with ‘Ticket to Ride’ by the Beatles and other music while the Hadlow Green Singers brought along ‘Chattanooga Choo-Choo’ and an adaptation of Flanders and Swann’s ‘On the Slow Train’.

Visitors were served cakes by the Guides and escorted to the signal box by the Scouts while ‘Railway Children’ volunteers had made cakes and teas to sell from the station office.

Chris Hampshire, chairman of the Willaston Residents and Countryside Society which set up the Friends, told the crowd: “Work at the station continues as we intend to deliver further improvements to the station over the coming months.” Cllr Hogg and Mr Welsh both cut the commemorative ribbon.

The Scratch Brass Quintet entertains

Apart from giving the signal box a smart makeover, the group organises regular community volunteer clear-up days at the station.

Other improvements by the volunteers have included hanging baskets and floral presentations, well-maintained gardens and beds along with a spruce-up for the platform itself.

Planned events for the future include Santa’s Grotto coming in December and the 150th anniversary of the opening on October 1, 2016.

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