THE Mid Hants Railway’s new waiting shelter at Ropley station has scooped the National Railway Heritage’s Stagecoach Volunteer’s Award.

The National Railway Heritage Trust Awards took place on December 2 at the Merchant Taylor’s Hall in London.

The Trust exists to help operational railways preserve and maintain their listed buildings and structures through grants and advice. Presented by Lord Faulkner of Worcester, the Volunteers Award, sponsored by Stagecoach, recognises the achievement of a new build in the existing style of the railway’s heritage buildings and the expertise and dedication of the team of volunteers who built it.

The presenter’s speech announcing the award stated that the steam heritage Watercress Line shelter at Ropley was “an object lesson in how these projects should be carried out”.

The new shelter was designed by architect and Mid Hants Railway volunteer Adrian Crees in the Southern Railways style of the other buildings along the line, using decorative cast-iron columns and arches from the old Ringwood station which closed in 1967. The new building gives Watercress Line visitors extra comfort as they wait for the next steam train at Ropley station.

It took 50 weeks and more than 5,000 volunteer man hours to complete and, as testament to all of the hard work, the project was completed two weeks early and under budget.

It was officially opened in May by Tim Shoveller, managing director of South West Trains and a longstanding volunteer at Ropley station where he started as a station porter.

The prestigious award gives the Watercress Line a commemorative plaque, to be officially revealed on the Ropley waiting shelter at a VIP event in 2016.

Stephanie Crowther, chairman of the Mid Hants Railway Preservation Society, said: “We are absolutely delighted with the award, it is a fitting testament to the skill and dedication of our volunteers.

“In our 150th year, it is exciting to be bringing new projects to fruition, especially when they come in on time and under budget. Their accomplishment is so perfect that many visitors have mistaken it for a renovation and they should be justly proud.”