Friends of Sway Station
Friends of Sway Station or FOSS was formed in September 2011 with a view to improving the look of the station and encouraging greater usage of it. For over 50 years Sway station had an excellent tradition for its floral displays; Joe Young station master from 1956 until his retirement in 1988 kept the station immaculate and won many Best Kept Station Awards. Since then station master Ian Faletto won awards for his floral displays and outstanding customer service. Now Sway was looking for volunteers to help improve the look of the station again. Many stations throughout the country have similar organisations and South West Trains actively encouraged the setting up of FOSS and establishing a good working relationship and support.
Although there are much earlier references in Sway Parish Council minutes going back as far as February 2009 (and almost certainly beyond), the project leading towards a possible station adoption appears to have begun in earnest in February 2010 when the Parish Council Transport Representative John Warden addressed the Council regarding the options available (see 2010-02-25 PC Minutes February 2010 [131kb]). There are further references in minutes from later meetings in 2010 and 2011 (see here for an archive of Parish Council minutes).
John Warden and Ted Watts were eventually instrumental in bringing together a keen group of people for an inaugural meeting at the Sway Youth Centre in September 2011. Retired South West Trains manager Alan Cracknell was elected chairman, with Tony Oakhill as Treasurer and Iris Watts as Secretary. The group which then numbered 11 had its initial safety briefing on the station platform during a working party on 12th November 2011.
One of their first tasks was to empty the fibreglass dinghy which at that time contained the only floral feature on the station. This was re-painted in "South West Trains" dark blue and planted up with a colourful selection ready for the Spring. At the same time a large number of daffodil bulbs were planted along the verges and banks that adjoin the platforms.
In 2012, the dinghy was replanted with a red, white and blue theme to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee year and this theme was continued with twelve new hanging baskets which were hung from supports under the station canopies on both sides of the railway, and from brackets attached originally by Ian Falletto to the station building itself.
An attempt was also made to remove perennial weeds and plant foxgloves along the embankment adjacent to platform 1.
Throughout that Summer, FOSS volunteers watered the hanging baskets and the boat more or less daily and also spent several hours washing off years of grime from the station woodwork.
The purchasing of plants, hanging baskets and watering equipment was funded by means of generous grants from Sway Parish Council and Sway Carnival Committee, along with a private donation from a local resident. In recognition of the generosity of the Carnival Committee, three FOSS members volunteered to become carnival marshals, and have continued doing this every year since showing how one good deed will often lead to many others!
The New Forest National Park Authority agreed to refurbish faded "Gateway to the New Forest" signs, New Forest District Council added the Station approach to its schedule of road sweeping activities, and Hampshire County Council (through Cllr Ken Thornber's efforts) agreed to improve lighting along Station Approach (often referred to as Sway's Black Hole!). This was part funded by South West Trains.
In 2013, the hanging baskets were again deployed and the boat replanted. The station was included in the Sway Open Gardens who also provided FOSS with another generous grant to help fund their continued work. Bird nesting boxes were installed in the wooded area adjacent to platform 2.
In 2014 came massive changes. With the help of a very generous Sustainable Transport Fund grant from the National Park Authority, and other generous financial contributions from South West Trains, Osborne, Sway Parish Council, Sway Carnival Committee and Sway Open Gardens, new Cycle hoops were installed and window boxes along with the six large planters you see today were built during platform refurbishment works carried out by Osborne (Network Rail's contractor).
In addition a new information board was erected alongside the exit to the car park and another installed in the new bus shelter on Station Road. 10,000 "Exploring Sway" visitor information leaflets were printed and are available at Sway Deli (Local Tourist Information Point), Sway Station and other Sway tourist businesses.
Please feel free to click on the map above to download a copy of this leaflet.
This project is featured on the New Forest National Park Authority webpage on Community grants. Select here to view this.
Two water "bowsers" were purchased to make watering of the planters easier and Dory's Garage kindly gave permission to use their outside tap to help with watering of the planters on platform 2 (the only tap on the station itself being on platform 1 side). It was also decided to stop using hanging baskets since they require a lot of watering. Also, the dinghy became redundant.
Since 2014, things have settled down to a steady rota of plant replenishment for all year round displays, and watering. Alan Cracknell and Tony Oakhill are still active obtaining grants from organisations such as South West Trains. Workgroup volunteers meet when necessary to replenish plants, and the planters are watered during dry spells over the summer on a rota basis. The Station Master helps by regularly watering the window boxes.
New volunteers are always welcome so if you have some spare time and would like to be involved in local community projects, please consider helping FOSS with their continued work. We are a friendly group and the work is not onerous. And you never know, you may be working on the platform when a steam train comes through, or more frequently receive appreciative comments from rail users for the floral displays that help to make it all worthwhile. The group may be contacted directly when working at the station, or by emailing the chairman: email@example.com.
And finally, to commemorate the 90th birthday of Queen Elizabeth II in 2016, FOSS created this beautiful floral display for the waiting room of Sway Station. Click on the thumbnail to view it in all its glory.
Happy Birthday Ma'am from the Friends of Sway Station!
This page last updated at 14:08 on 14th June 2016.