Refurbishing Leamington Spa Station

Leamington Spa Station is famous for being one of the UK’s most haunted stations. Eerie apparitions and paranormal activity has been reported by staff and commuters alike.

The station opened in 1852 on a broad gauge line engineered by Brunel. Its original building had a flat overall roof which was replaced by canopies.

Refurbished Waiting Rooms

The 1930s-style waiting rooms have been refurbished to bring them in line with the rest of the station. Chiltern Railways has restored the teak wooden fittings and stripped back the fireplaces while adding modern arrival and departure screens, automatic doors and improved lighting. They’ve also installed a new staff toilet and made preparations for a re-instated cafe. Volunteers from the Friends of Leamington Spa raised money to pay for heritage posters and Great Western Railway reproduction mirrors.

A further PS200,000 has been invested in revamping the entrance and pedestrian underpass of the station, creating a more welcoming environment for passengers arriving at the town’s railway. Warwick District Council is delivering upgraded wayfinding signs between the station and the town centre, as well as leading on the installation of colour palette artwork along the length of the underpass.

The town of Leamington Spa is famous for its health and beauty treatments, and today the rail service is no exception with regular services to London Marylebone, Birmingham and Coventry – as well as connections to the West Coast mainline at Nuneaton. There’s also a wide choice of boutique shops, from the familiar high street names to specialist independent stores. And if you’re hungry there are more than 60 restaurants, from the very posh to the very affordable, including a “bean-to-bar” artisan chocolate shop where you can watch the chocolatiers at work.

New Pedestrian Underpass

A revamp of the station’s forecourt and underpass has been completed, ensuring visitors have a better first impression of the town. The PS2million scheme has also boosted public spaces and improved car parking availability.

The work was completed ahead of the Commonwealth Games, making Leamington Spa a great place to visit before and after the events. The improvements have been funded by the Council, Warwickshire County Council and the Government’s Local Growth Fund through Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership, and delivered by Network Rail and Chiltern Railways.

This included renewing and refurbishing the station entrance, enlarging and upgrading public spaces, providing new seating areas, improving links within the forecourt area for pedestrians and cyclists, resurfacing and renewal of the station car park, enhancing security at the station and creating a secure cycle hub facility near to the main station entrance.

A piece of artwork by regional artist Stacey Barnfield has been installed in the underpass – a colourful interpretation of the town’s landmarks and its colours. It was developed following a month-long call out to residents, who were asked to suggest people, places or objects they associate with Royal Leamington Spa.

New Wayfinding Signage

New wayfinding signage has been installed across Royal Leamington Spa to welcome visitors and guide them to the many attractions of the town. The bespoke fingerposts and monoliths have been placed in the Pump Room Gardens, Jephson Gardens, Holly Walk, Parade and Victoria Park to provide information on the town’s attractions and how to get there.

A comprehensive improvement scheme has been completed at the station ahead of the Games, with a number of key improvements designed to boost infrastructure and make it easier for people to travel on foot or by bus and taxi. The work includes renewal and refurbishment of the station entrance and forecourt, enlarging public spaces and providing new seating areas as well as resurfacing and renewal of the station forecourt car park. The creation of a secure cycle hub and improved, energy efficient lighting at the station are also ongoing works.

The work was funded and delivered by the government’s Local Growth Fund through Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership, WDC, WCC, Network Rail and Chiltern Railways. It has been a hugely successful programme of work to deliver a better experience for visitors to the area and help people get where they need to go on foot, by bike or by bus and taxi. It has helped promote a great first impression of the town to visitors and leave a lasting legacy that can be enjoyed by all.

New Public Spaces

If either King Victoria or Queen Elizabeth were to visit Royal Leamington Spa today they would recognise much of what makes this an illustrious town: the handsome Town Hall and Parade, the elegant shops and cafes and the magnificent Jephson Gardens. They would also see a town that embraces the future as passionately as it cherishes its history.

This is why, when Heart of England Community Rail Partnership consulted with the local community it was clear they wanted the new station forecourt and underpass to be a beautiful, welcoming space that celebrates the town’s rich history. The new artwork in the underpass was designed to do just that. Each of the coloured swatches was suggested by the public in an exciting community engagement process. A QR code at the underpass entrance takes you to a webpage explaining what each of the colourful swatches represents – making it a truly interactive art installation that celebrates the town.

The reed-like shapes constructed from Corten steel echo the reeds that grow along the River Leam. The shapes are functional and provide seating. They are a wonderful example of how heritage can be integrated with the modern world and show the way forward for other towns.

A further new feature is a new, secure cycle hub near the station which will make it easy for people to switch from car to train and vice versa, reducing congestion. The hub is a key element of the overall transport strategy for the town and ties in with the work being done to deliver an improved cycle route between the station and the town centre.

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