Villagers in Cambridgeshire are being urged to donate plants to improve Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton stations and to celebrate their birthdays.

The railway station gardens will be launched on 9 July, when the three stations celebrate their 160th, 160th and 163rd birthdays respectively with help from children from local schools.

The project is sponsored by the Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Rail User Group, and is built around the idea of local residents, schools and businesses who use and enjoy the local railway, creating and maintaining the gardens year round.

The group said: "We want to encourage use of the sustainable transport network on our doorstep.

"Each garden will have its own theme depending on the configuration of the station property and amount of land available, as well as the interests and input of the local community.

Foxton’s garden is necessarily confined to the platforms and will focus on planters.

Shepreth’s garden will make use of the area around the entrance adjacent to the car park, and will have a wildlife theme garden sponsored by Shepreth Wildlife Park and the primary school.

Meldreth’s garden will make use of the plot of ground in front of the Indian takeaway, where the primary school gardening club is creating a flower and vegetable patch.

All three stations will have traditional oak barrel planters on the station platforms.

Local people – individuals, families, schools or businesses – are being invited to sponsor the care of one or more of the oak barrel planters.

This will involve supplying potting soil and summer or winter annuals, which can either be purchased or grown in advance from seed.

In the first year the cost will be a bit more because there has not been enough lead time to grow plants from seed, and the cost per planter will be about £15-£20 for soil and plants.

At each station the name of the sponsor will be displayed on the railway garden notice boards.

The group added: "We would like sponsors to commit to the care of their planters for at least one year.

"Vandalism is a sad fact of life these days but we will take a practical attitude and simply replant if necessary. Sponsors will be asked to anticipate this possibility. Please get in touch if you would like to get involved."

The group has already won donations from the following:

First Capital Connect: 18 oak planters

Cambridgeshire County Council and AmeyCespa (formerly Donabon): soil improver and use of skips for waste

Country Homes and Gardens: garden tools and watering cans, seed packets

Fieldgate Nurseries: six lavenders and eight rosemaries for Meldreth School patch

Philimores: moisture retention compost and transport of planters on to Foxton Station

Scaffolding boards for Meldreth School patch

Shepreth Wildlife Park: water butt, bird boxes, bird feeders, old stacking tyres, free child passes to Shepreth Wildlife Park for school children helping out

Gocold: free ice cream for the station birthdays, water supply for Meldreth School patch, several mornings’ hard labour from staff

Julie and Peter Draper: Fen topsoil for Meldreth School patch, plants

Ann Thompson, Meldreth Primary School Gardening Club: plants

Meldreth and Melbourn garden enthusiasts Ann Thompson, Jane and Jim Eggleton, Julie and Peter Draper, Ann Barnes, Bruce Huett, Tim Gane, Susan van de Ven: preparing the ground for Meldreth School patch.

David Piggott, Meldreth station master: tea

First tub sponsors:

Elisabeth Goodman Spain, RiverRhee Consulting
The Farmer family
Bruce Huett

The celebrations on 9 July will take place at the following times: Foxton station 12.10, Meldreth station 13.10, Shepreth station 14.10.

At each station there will be a delegation of local primary school children to help launch the new railway station gardens.

A local history theme will be woven into the day, with Foxton’s Common Stream group and Meldreth’s Local History Group providing photographic displays in their respective station houses, and a specially reprinted local history of Shepreth and the local railway, Distant Voices, available to purchase at each station (£6).

Mike Sharman, Foxton resident and local rail historian, will travel by train to each station with an historic railway lantern.

He will be accompanied by the Common Stream Local History group, a Melbourn Village College musician, a Shepreth Wildlife Park representative, the county council’s community transport officer, First Capital Connect station services manager, and Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Rail User Group representatives.

Free ice cream will be served by Gocold at each station.

Shepreth Village Fair and hog roast follows on Shepreth Recreation Ground

Information from Susan van de Ven, chairman of Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Rail User Group. For more information: susanvandeven at or phone 01463 261833

{|Rail users group]