Railway stations are often overlooked as you journey through them. However, if you pause to look, you may find that some stations can be worth exploring further. From cosy bookshops and tasty tea rooms to inspiring art spaces and fascinating heritage centres, there's lots to discover whether or not you're taking the train. Below we've highlighted some of the most interesting things to see and do at railway stations across Britain.
What could be better than heading to the station and picking up a once-loved book? Pitlochry Station, located in the Scottish Highlands, is home to a charming second-hand bookshop that is getting worldwide appeal and has been featured in an article in New Mexico. Wemyss Bay's beautiful and impressive station (recently crowned Britain's Best Loved Station) is worth a visit on its own but the station's bookshop is a hidden gem. The bookshop carries a wide selection of pre-loved books as well as new publications. The gallery attached displays fascinating photos of the station back in 1903 and serves as a resource centre for the area's history.
Time for cake
Enjoy a change of scenery and support local businesses with a trip to a station coffee shop. Ridgmont Station's Heritage Centre, is located inside the old Victorian station building and features a museum packed with railway memorabilia and a charming tea room serving delicious homemade cakes. Bat and Ball Station boasts an award-winning community café where you can enjoy traditional breakfast, sandwiches and afternoon tea served within the wonderful restored station building. The picturesque Great Malvern Station is home to Lady Foley's Tearoom, a vintage tea shop that has been serving passengers for 38 years.
Stations provide a great space for creativity, whether it's getting crafty in a workshop, admiring impressive murals or appreciating local artwork in exhibitions. Nuneaton Station is home to a fascinating arts space run by Escape Arts where families are invited to learn new skills in a variety of art workshops throughout the year. Most stations along the Severn Beach Line (from Bristol) have their own unique artworks. Families could happily spend a day exploring the various pieces of work at each station including the magnificent murals. Wigan North Western is home to an award-winning mural and is well worth a visit, highlighting the fascinating dialect of the area. The Old Parcels Office Artspace is an arts venue housed in a Grade II listed building at Scarborough Station. The space features artist studios, gallery and learning space.
Step back in time
Britain's railways are packed full of history and heritage, some of which can be uncovered at stations. The romantic setting of Carnforth Station is popular with film fans wanting to recreate 'Brief Encounter'. Step into the station's Heritage Centre to soak up the atmosphere of a bygone age, when this Victorian railway station once welcomed frequent steam trains. On the Cumbrian Coast, Workington's historical display depicts the area's industrial heritage and not too far away is Millom's Heritage and Arts Centre celebrates the rich and vibrant past from Bronze Age through industrial renaissance to when sailing ships crowded the nearby harbour.
Walks from stations
Use the station as a starting point for a refreshing family walk or cycle ride. Many community rail partnerships and groups have produced handy maps covering routes across Britain. Take a look at some highlights and read more here.
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