It all started very informally:
Ruth Bennion writes: “One summer evening in 2004 I went to the station with a trowel and secateurs determined to tackle the tatty, long flowerbed on Platform 2. For years I had reminisced about the pretty little stations with well kept flowerbeds I remembered from my childhood and I kept thinking, “why don’t the station staff at Leamington just pop out and do a bit of weeding between trains?” Obviously I was not very knowledgable about running the railways! I knelt on the tarmac and started work. An hour or so later I paused …. piles of weeds…. and I’d only done 3 or 4 metres and still 40 or 50 to go! I was defeated. Sweat dripped off both my chin and my nose and I’d no plans to deal with the heaps of weeds.”
‘My memory lapses regarding my next visit and “horrors”, I had not thought to ask permission to do this gardening. However, with two friends we soon established a regular weekly gardening date and were able to look with pride at our achievements and accept compliments from visiting travellers.’
In fact the local Soroptimist group had already been tending to the tubs on the platforms, and have collaborated with the Friends in the development.
Becoming more systematic
Chiltern Railways suggested later on in 2004 that we set up a Friends group, and that they would support our efforts. We developed a routine of bi-monthly meetings that brought together the Chiltern representative with gardeners and others, under Archie Pitts’ chairmanship, and they have been meeting at the station since then.
We were greatly helped in making plans by having mementos and photographs of the station from decades ago. In particular Patrick Kingston, who had been visiting the station with his camera since the 1950s. This has enabled us to accurately restore such fixtures as the waiting room clock and the running-in boards in their original style.