There was something very tranquil about Langwith Whaley Thorns station and we spent some time taking in the views from each platform and the bridge.
The livery was bright green and cream, and later we discovered that all the stations along this stretch use the same colours, railings and lamps. Although corporate, the colours seem clean and modern with a fresh feel. The railings and lamps were in keeping with the area, working with the flow of the landscape.
One of the things that struck us was the visual suggestion of rhythm in the line of lamps, the railings, the tracks, seeming to echo with the clickety clack of train wheels passing through the station.
We came to Langwith Whaley Thorns enticed by the name. It is named after a dense wood, recorded on the first Ordinance Survey Maps. "Whaley" is Celtic for water or spring and refers to the local springs and the near-by river Poulter and "Thorn" is an Anglo-Saxon word for wood. So the name may originally have meant either "Wood of the Springs", or "Wood above/between the water(s)". In the mid-nineteenth century, much of the wood was cut down, following the discovery of coal.
We felt it was important to make at least one train journey and hopped on for a brief trip to Whitwell and back. The route whisked us through fields interrupted by the now recognisable flash of the bright green railings at Cresswell station.
A small bridge at Whitwell takes you back over the tracks to the opposite platform. Strangely, the rail foot bridge is built separate to but right adjacent to a much older bridge over which passes the road, with views of houses and allotments.
View from the bridge at Whitwell.
Grazing lamp posts
After a brief look around Whitwell, we took the train back again. The conductor seemed quite amused by seeing us so soon between journeys and spent a few moments in conversation with us on our way back.
The driver flashed a beaming smile
before leaving us to make our way around the town of Langwith Whaley Thorns.
Whaley Thorns was a colliery town deeply affected by the pit closures in 1978, this has such powerful resonance with our starting point, Corby Station. By 1996 many properties in Whaley Thorns had become vacant and had fallen into disrepair, in 1998 the town was identified as a Renewal Area. 140 houses were demolished and replaced with owner occupied dwellings and housing rented through a Registered Social Landlord. Poulter View, a £4 million redevelopment of the former Bathurst Terrace site, is a mix of one, two, three and four bedroom houses. These include town houses, semi-detached and detached properties. The houses are close to a communal green space, play area and very near to Langwith Whaley Thorns Heritage Centre
Dreams and rust
and the salt of the earth
We picked up quite a lot of information from the helpful people at the Village Hall. Strange to think that the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright influenced the planners and builders during Whaley Thorns boom time. Now it is a very quiet place, there are plans to raise money for a skate ramp and the Village Hall has had a splendid make-over with great spaces for gathering, exercise or meetings.
But the heart of the community lay within the community shop which was opened after a successful programme of table top sales at the museum. Snappabargain is located on Main Street Whaley Thorns and is open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9.00 am till 3.00 pm. Also at the shop is the Snapbox Cafe where light refreshments are available to eat in or take away. We stopped in for a cup of tea and were amazed at the amount of community initiatives that Ian at the shop is involved in!
In the cafe we found out about a fantastic new project to involve local people in horticulture at The Rhubarb Farm, about some of the photography exhibitions and new groups being set up, the local historian Tony Warrener and his book about the area, the Heritage Centre and events that aim to link villages in the area.
Thanks to the people in the cafe we came away with a wonderful buzz from the positive inspiration of people like Ian and the Community Association. Regeneration is not just about buildings and bricks, but about people who invest their energy and creativity into getting people together and bringing life to a community. Once again, we found a town brimming with potential.