Pretty as a Picture

Basking in the afternoon sunshine, Lamphey station looks a storybook illustration. The single platform is edged by cottages and along the platform’s edge is a riot of flowers.

Lamphey Railway Gardens are the creation of Lamphey and District WI, who since 2004 have “adopted” the station and kept it looking beautiful. The idea to take on the task came as part of an international WI initiative to get groups doing voluntary work in their local areas. Lamphey and District WI set about looking for something that needed their attention, and quickly settled on the station.

“We happened to come down to the station and it was an absolute mess – there were no gardens at all, just debris,” says the station group’s organiser Tessa Griffiths. “We got in touch with Arriva Trains Wales, as it was then, and offered to take it on – and they said ‘yes please’. Since then we have planted and looked after it.”

Over the years the number of women in the group has varied. It currently has 10 core members, who visit when they can on a Monday morning to help with the gardening.

“During the summer we had a rota, but we decided it was easier to simply say that if people were available they could come down for an hour,” says Tessa. “I do it because I like gardening. Also, you meet people waiting for the trains and have a chat with them. When people get off the train, they want to know what there is to see in Lamphey – you become a bit of a travel guide!”

There is a lot to see and do in Lamphey. It has a pub – The Dial Inn; Lamphey Hall Hotel, which has a carvery; and the rather grand Lamphey Court Hotel, a Best Western hotel with its own gym and spa. A key attraction is the beautiful ruins and grounds of the Bishop’s Palace – a CADW monument. There’s also a thriving village shop, incorporating a bakery and post office, if you need to buy refreshments on the go. There are several beautiful beaches nearby: a 25-minute walk will take you to Freshwater East, where you’ll also find another two pubs, The Freshwater Inn and The Longhouse.

“In the summer the water is so clear and warm,” says Tessa. “A lot of people come here for the beach – and the beaches from Tenby to Angle are dog friendly, so we get a lot of people with dogs.”

With trains every two hours, it’s easy to take a day trip to Lamphey – and don’t forget to pause and enjoy the station gardens when you get there. Over the years these have become increasingly pretty, with the addition of flower boxes and even a touch of topiary. A water butt has been added behind the platform shelter to make it easier for the volunteers to water the plants, and further flower boxes and other improvements are planned. All the women say a love of gardening is a big motivation, but they also love to see how much other people appreciate their work.

“It’s nice when people say how pretty the garden is,” says volunteer Par Parkhurst. “They say it’s just like railway stations used to be.”

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