IT’S not every day a train station gets to celebrate its birthday with balloons, cakes, and a jazz band.
But it was certainly worth making a fuss for the 165th anniversary of Emsworth railway station opening.
Residents have rallied round to give the station a stunning makeover, including the reopening of the station’s toilets and waiting room.
A year ago the waiting room was a grotty mess and had not been open to the public in years.
Members of Emsworth Residents’ Association and other community leaders have worked tirelessly to co-ordinate the revamp of the station with the help of Southern Railway.
The waiting room is now a bright and colourful room, with community boards giving information on local events and wildlife, as well as artwork by local schoolchildren.
And pupils from Emsworth Primary School have helped to plant flower displays at the station.
Scores of them dressed in Victorian dress for the celebration – harking back to March 15, 1847, when the station opened, along with those at Havant and Bosham.
And the children made all the sandwiches for the party.
The station revamp was the vision of Lorraine Clode, chairwoman of Emsworth Residents’ Association.
She said: ‘It’s a very joyful day.
‘It’s celebrating not only the birthday of the station, but reopening rooms that will benefit the community.
‘I think we have done the station proud.’
The Mayor of Havant, Ken Smith, cut the ribbon to officially reopen the waiting area, which will also include a cafe area selling home-made cup cakes.
He said: ‘It’s about time we got some character back into our railway stations rather than the bland old things we have had put up over the years.
‘A station like this is a pleasure to use.’
Schoolchildren ably handed out refreshments to guests at the party.
Grace Fisk, nine, said: ‘I think it’s really nice and bright and colourful.’
Isabel Stratford-Burden, also nine, said: ‘It’s been exciting and quite a fun time to be here.’
Ebony Marsh, eight, added: ‘It’s nice there’s going to be a waiting area so people can sit down.’
Running the cafe business will be Garry Pascoe, 49, an ex-army commando, and his wife Chief Petty Officer Michelle Pascoe, who is based at HMS Temeraire in Portsmouth and plans to leave the forces to concentrate on the cake business.
The scheme has cost around £25,000, with most of the cash coming from Southern Railway, as well as contributions from SEEDA, the Residents’ Association and Hampshire County Council.
Music at the party was provided by George’s Regis Jazz Band, who played Sweet Lorraine in tribute to Mrs Clode’s efforts.
Mrs Clode, who danced along to the tune, laughed: ‘It’s absolutely made my day!’