Community comes together to transform Rolfe Street

Diverse groups adopt railway station.

Smethwick Rolfe Street station on London Midland’s Birmingham to Wolverhampton route has been given a green-fingered transformation following its formal adoption by the local community.

Local residents have joined London Midland’s Adopt a Station scheme to help breathe new life into the station garden on Platform 1. Members of the Abrahamic Foundation, staff from Transport for West Midlands, Network Rail and London Midland’s Safety and Environment team came together yesterday to help the adopters give the garden a new lease of life.

After putting in new compost and installing a membrane and bark, the team planted a selection of flowering evergreen shrubs, along with herbs to attract pollinators and bring new colour to the station.

The station adoption team was also assisted by volunteers and staff from BITA Pathways Park Lane Garden Centre, a social enterprise offering horticultural training, volunteering and employment opportunities for people experiencing mental ill health. Park Lane, who provided the plants, also plan to adopt Aston station on the Cross City line. This will be a new engagement and planting project to further support their members’ personal growth and independence.

The gardening expert on the new Smethwick Rolfe Street adoption team is Janet Cartwright, the first ever female gardener to be recruited by Smethwick Parks back in the 1960s; Janet grew millions of geraniums and seasonal bedding for the parks’ flower displays during her career.

The new adopters were presented with a special station adoption plaque by Steve Fisher, head of regional services at London Midland, who said: “We’re constantly on the lookout for new ways to get closer to the communities we serve. It was inspiring to see so many different groups keen to come together and give something back to their local station. We hope that this project will encourage lots more people to give up some of their free time to do the same.”

Faye Lambert, London Midland’s head of community rail, said: “The adoption of Smethwick Rolfe Street is a prime example of how community rail can regenerate stations and provide opportunities for diverse groups to form strong partnerships.

“This project will not just make the station a more attractive gateway to the local area, it will also make it part of the community and help inspiring partners like Park Lane Garden Centre and the Abrahamic Foundation to develop their work and share skills.”

Smethwick Rolfe Street adoption is one of three of community partnership regeneration projects for the station, which also includes a community mural and a station project exhibition and meeting room. This is being developed by students from Sandwell College as part of BTEC Art study and work experience and is set for launch during June.