Friday, July 05, 2019

Happy 150th birthday Rose Hill station

Our wonderful little railway station is having a birthday party this weekend. Rose Hill will be celebrating 150 years of service.

There’s a poem to mark the occasion that takes us through the deaths of monarchs and the reduction of the station to a terminus and the closure of the through line to Macclesfield in 1970, despite having survived Beeching's axe in the 1960s. It's been a battle, but a renewed lease of life more recently has made it a valuable community asset.

In the time I’ve been using the station it has transformed from somewhere that felt truly at the end of the line to a welcoming hub. It wasn’t too long ago that the poor service was rumoured to be a tactical worsening to suppress demand and lead to eventual closure. Instead we’ve had the steady improvement of the soft infrastructure led by the amazing Friends of Rose Hill station group - tree planting, a mural, the re-opening of the waiting room and so many other delightful improvements. The curation of the station into its present form has also been supported by Tony Tweedie, the station master, who embodies the very best virtues of public service. In turn that accumulated investment of love, and comprehensive data collation about who is using the station, gave a moral imperative to some resolute and successful campaigning for a higher frequency service last year.

I've done a few blogs about it over the years, this one here harks back to the campaign over the missing mystery service in the evening and the leaf train. But I also wrote here about how much better for my mental health Rose Hill is than Marple station.

We still have a crappy train operating company with their dire rolling stock, and I shall claim to speak for the permanently malcontented when I say I thoroughly dislike the 150 Sprinters as much as I despise the soon to be extinct Pacer units. But at least we have this station to come home to.

I can see a bright future for Rose Hill, but I think in ten years time it might all look very different again. Greater Manchester’s shifting demographics require an explosion in high frequency public transport services to places like this, requiring something new and exciting, like a tram train. The case for that network to expand to Marple and Rose Hill is a strong one. The reopening of the Middlewood Way towards High Lane may be trickier.

So, thank you to everyone who has got this station to 150, the passengers, the dedication of the Marple public in supporting something worth defending, to Tony Tweedie, but most of all to the Friends of Rose Hill.

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