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Friends of Squires Gate Station Latest

Written by Barrie Russell of FoSGS

What has been happening at Squires Gate Station since March, well we have been discreetly watering plants at both St Anne’s and Squires Gate and thankfully we did not have to use the balaclava’s we originally purchased for a “guerrilla” video scenario at Kirkham and Wesham (they are awful to wear) when we filled the planters in January.

Volunteers working on platform 2. Barrie seen on left with Paul Nettleton

Northern gradually released their necessary Covdi-19 restrictions on their stations at the end of June, but only allowing two volunteers to be working on the stations at any one time which would have been quite difficult to implement in our case as we have 6 active members and we could only work between 10am and 4pm.

Our station is not as wide as many and I suggested to Northern that we might have to completely restrict our activities because we no longer had access to the platform from behind the waiting shelter because they had installed a blue fence (shown by arrow) for security purposes.

It meant the only option was to park on Squires Gate Lane with a maximum 2hr stay but on the wrong side of the road. It would have meant carrying materials across a very busy two lane carriageway which for safety reasons was not really practical.

Northern Trains 156 set seen at Squires Gate Station

However, as time progressed the goalposts changed yet again and the lockdown measures became easier and we are now allowed up to six volunteers to be working on the platform at any one time.

Added to that everyone has to bring their own tools, gloves, hi-viz, wear masks, socially distance and avoid interaction where possible with passengers.

This made things a bit easier, but I had to submit a request for us to recommence activities detailing what we would and would not be doing and I decided we needed a “Safe Area” on the platform so I submitted this above layout option to Northern with a designated area in Yellow, the red area is the passenger corridor, it was accepted along with a new risk assessment to go with it.

I did three Safety Briefings on Friday 24th July (normally completed by Northern) with our new volunteers so that they could then work safely on the platform knowing what they should and should not do and also having read and understood as much as possible the Safety Briefing document and Risk Assessment but more so the “common sense” practicalities involving our work. Afterwards myself and Paul, a colleague, managed to shift an accumulation of sand which occurs outside the station – it will be back later in the week if its dry and there is a breeze.

We were hoping to recommence working on the station week commencing Monday 27th July, but volunteer availability meant it was not practical to realistically do so. Our volunteers are desperately itching to get going.

We are also currently working on a History Board for the station, you may have seen them on stations around the country.

Did you know that there was a Zoological Gardens and Amusement Park at Squires Gate in 1929? They also built bombers for the war effort at the Squires Gate Plant until November 1948 and it was an RAF base.

There is so much history in the area but I will save that for next time, when hopefully I will have finished compiling the “history board” and my colleagues will be satisfied with the content. Cast your mind back to pre-Covid – January 2020 and it was cold and misty as depicted by this photograph by one of our team members.

FoSGS Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FriendsofSquiresGateStation

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