It’s Community Rail Week and we are showcasing the inspiring work which has taken place at Bishopstone station.

The theme for this year’s events is ‘Connecting Communities by Rail’.

Community Rail Week, sponsored by Rail Delivery Group, highlights the innovative projects and inspiring initiatives from across the community rail movement. The theme enables us to showcase the inspiring work that goes on in community rail in bringing people together and creating more inclusive communities and mobility, as well as the wider socio-economic benefit that the railways deliver.

‘Connecting Communities by Rail’ provides us with an opportunity to raise the profile of the work community rail delivers to help tackle social isolation and loneliness providing communities with access to opportunities they otherwise may not have had.

The Friends of Bishopstone Station spent more than five years restoring the redundant Old Parcel Room into a thriving community hub. The station is unique on the national rail network as the only one with gun emplacements on top of the station building. It is a Grade II-listed Art Deco building dating from 1938.

The restoration project brought together a variety of partners including Department for TransportSouthernNetwork RailRailway Heritage TrustCommunity Rail Network, Southeast Communities Rail Partnership and many individuals and groups.

The building was officially opened last November by The Lord-Lieutenant of East Sussex representing King Charles III. Also at the opening was railway historian and TV presenter Tim Dunn who presented an episode of The Architecture The Railways Built about Bishopstone.

Since the opening, the community hub has been used for weekly ‘Meet Up Mondays’ drop-in sessions, various talks including one on local history, art classes, sewing lessons, foreign language tuition, fitness advice and yoga practice. It also hosted a special Coronation afternoon tea party.

FOBS chair Barbara Mine was named as one of the 500 Coronation Champions to recognise outstanding volunteers.

The Bishopstone community hub continues to thrive and is a fantastic example of the work carried out by volunteers within community rail.

Exterior of Bishopstone railway station