Kettering Civic Society
'Time Travellers' at Kettering Railway Station

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More info on Kettering's Railway Station can be seen here


March 7th 2020 saw another steam engine come to Kettering as we welcomed visitors to Time Travellers. We were able to offer an amazing range of books covering every aspect of trains imaginable, thanks to the generous donation of Carol Miles. The sale of these wonderful books will boost the Society’s coffers.

Committee members continued to create new planting around the station until lockdown. David Rose and Lyn Wilson worked miracles on the flower bed at the front of the station. Unfortunately, we have been unable to tend the plants, but look forward to leaping back into action again!

On November 17th 2019 Time Travellers was again open when the steam train Union of South Africa stopped for water.

On June 29th 2019 Time Travellers was open when the steam train The Flying Scotsman stopped at Kettering Station


Time Travellers on the Northamptonshire Open Studios Trail

A surprising venue for art could be found at Kettering railway station, and what an excellent place to find an exhibition by Jamie Poole to cheer up the spirits and buy a work of art. Time Travellers is the name that Kettering Civic Society has given to the room, because the Society is interested in the past, present and future of the town and if you have visited you would see from archive material that things do go around in circles. An art exhibition by one of the oldest art Societies, The Kettering & District Art Society, took place in the station masters office in 1979!

Kettering has been described as a town that people ‘pass through’, the Society is keen to invite travellers to explore what the town has to offer, specifically it has a rich heritage of the Arts and art, it can boast many great artists such as the well-known Dan Dare cartoonist, Frank Bellamy, Gotch, Sir Alfred East, Nettleship the list goes on.

As well as exhibiting Jamie Poole’s art at the station, on show is a piece of the 1960’s mosaic by Kenneth Budd. It is Kettering’s own public art.(Budd’s works include the Kennedy Mosaic that was in the Bull Ring Shopping Centre in Birmingham, also now re-sited). The Mosaics’ abstract images tell of Kettering’s rich heritage, it is a modern version of Kettering’s coat-of-arms and pays homage recognising the importance of the founding of the Baptist Missionary Society, William Knibb the emancipator of slaves as well as recording the towns industry; made possible because of the railway coming to town. The Mosaic had adorned the former Grammar School, latterly Tresham College but when it was decided to pull the building down no provision had been made to keep the Mosaic and it was offered to Kettering Civic Society as custodians to save for the town in 2007. Since then it has been in storage awaiting funds needed to restore and re-site it. A mammoth cost for a small Society who has worked hard over the years fundraising. £24,000 is still required to restore and re-site it, a small price to pay for a large piece of an iconic 1960’s mosaic showing Kettering’s heritage. Are there any philanthropists out there willing to sponsor and donate a Kenneth Budd Mosaic to the town and have their name in Kettering’s list of benefactors along with Carnegie (Library) and Charles Wicksteed (Pleasure Park)?

It was a privilege to have Susie Corke's traditional hand and machine patchwork quilts on show during September. She is very well-known within quilters as a professional teacher and an award winning textile artist. Thank you to our volunteers who staffed Time Travellers during September.

On Friday 26th February @ 11am the High Sheriff of Northamptonshire, Dr Ahmed Ibrahim Mukhtar, Opened Kettering Civic Society’s new base “Time Travellers” on platform 1 at Kettering Railway Station and The Mayor of Kettering, Councillor June Derbyshire, acknowledged the gardening and reconstruction work that PRINCE’S TRUST STUDENTS have completed to enhance the station.

In 1979 Kettering Civic Society won a Civic Trust Award for work on the station gardens and 37 years later Princes Trust students work on the same garden.

The Society contacted Tresham College Mark Williams, Team Leader of the Prince’s Trust to ask whether students (Team 43) would be prepared to make a garden, restore a mail cart and provide a planting display at the station. Students were delighted to take up the very challenging heavy work planning their project and spending time raising funds by bag packing at Asda to help pay for materials. They spent 10 days creating the garden and didn’t give up when the weather was cold and rainy. This formed the Teams Community Project, an essential part of their 12 week personal development Team programme whereby the learners gain new skills to better prepare them for the world of work.

Sponsors were; Frosts Landscaping – Stones, gravel, plants and weed membrane. Denford Construction donated stones for the rock garden. David Rose and Steve Howkins helped to transport the stones. Bosworths Garden Centre (and more as this is being prepared).

Kettering Civic Society’s partnership and history with Kettering Station

The Civic Society which was formed to encourage high standards in architecture and planning and to encourage civic pride has a long standing connection with Kettering Railway station and after 37 years continues to do so.


The Society has for several years been looking for a base to give it a ‘face’ in the community and to fulfil its objectives. In December 2015 Dan Eustance, East Midlands Trains Customer Experience Manager offered a room on platform 1 for Kettering Civic Society use.

Dan Eustace: “ Through this partnership, Civic Society Secretary Monica Özdemir has adopted the station. Together we (East Midlands Trains) are planning to have more community activities take place at the station including working with Prince’s Trust offering career advice and work experience as well as offering students the opportunity to engage in environmental and conservation projects.”

The Time Travellers Room, although just big enough for 10 people to sit around a table, benefits from high walls allowing for exhibitions. It is suitable for use as a small workshop, and an information point for promoting the county and the town. It is felt that the activities that will take place in the room will evolve as new volunteers join in and the projects that will be undertaken under the Heritage Lottery bid will be the start. The room will also form a good fundraising base aiming towards installing the Kettering Mosaic on the Newlands Shopping Centre above the car park entrance, an area of the town to be regenerated.
Dan Eustace, David Rose of Network Rail and Civic Society secretary, Monica Özdemir decorated the room in December 2015.

2003 In recognition of the partnership between Kettering Civic Society and Kettering Railway Station the Society celebrated by hiring the steam engine, the Union of South Africa, taking 500 passengers from Kettering to York for the day. A spectacular aerial photograph was taken of the train steaming over Harringworth Viaduct.

In 1979 the station carpark was in a neglected state and Arthur together with committee members, businesses and the community set about clearing and planting the area calling it Car Park Improvement Scheme. As a result the Society was presented with the CIVIC TRUST AWARD. (by Michael Middleton, Director of Civic Trust, also in attendance were British Rail Manager, Sir Peter Parker).

Tree- Planting scheme reported to Northants Press Agency:
“A meeting was held on 26th July 1979 between the following: Bernard Kaukas (Director- Environment, British Railways Board, John Reeks (Divisional Manager British Rail), John Mays ( Area Manager BR), Divisional Engineers (BR) David Woodhall (County Planning Officer), John Rowland (County Landscape Architect), Michael Beswick (Society Architect), Councillor Christopher Groome (Kettering Borough Council Chairman of the Housing Committee), Cll. Denney (KBC Chairman Amenities Committee), John Pemble ( KBC Amenities Officer), John Billows (who is providing the mechanical digger), Mrs Helga Neale (giving top soil), Ken Royston (Agent to His Grace The Duke of Buccleuch who is giving some trees to the scheme), a representative of Kettering and District Scouts (who will help plant the trees) and myself – (Arthur Heath, Civic Society Chairman.)”

1981 Kettering Civic Society Annual Environmental Award was presented to His worship the Mayor of Kettering Cll L. March, J.P. on behalf of the Kettering & District Army Cadets, Scouts, and young men of the Manpower Service Commission, for their work on planting at the railway station.

1978 Kettering Civic Society met with British Rail Director, Mr Bernard Kaukus and successfully persuaded British Rail not to take down the ornate ironwork at the station. Those involved in discussions were; Mr Sidney Jones, Vice Chairman of the Civic Society, Keith Allsop, Civic Society advisory architect, Mrs Sherley Phillips, Chairman of Kettering and District Arts Society, Arthur Heath Chairman of the Society, and advisory architects, Mrs Michael Beswick and Mr Peter Buttenshaw.

1979 Kettering Arts Society Exhibition at Kettering Railway station Sponsored by Kettering Civic Society.
Reported in Kettering Evening Telegraph 18.5.79 Exhibition; Thanks for all the help.

Heritage Outlook, Journal of Civic Trust Vol. 11 No. 3 May/June

“Kettering Civic Society recently celebrated the “switch on” of the new floodlights at the town’s Grade 11 listed railway station. This was just the latest stage in the Society’s 12 year campaign to make the station a better place for rail passengers and a building which Kettering can be proud of.

The Society’s involvement with the station began at a time when it splendid iron work and canopies were under threat. The Society succeeded in rescuing these and also initiated a tree planting programme to improve the stations car park- a disused engine shed area which had become an eyesore. As a result of its concern for Kettering Railway Station, the Society built up a relationship with British rail and in particular Bernard Kaukus, BR’s former Environmental Director.

Arthur Heath, Chairman of Kettering Civic Society describes the floodlighting scheme as an “arm-twisting arrangement” where Kettering Borough Council and Phillips Lighting made very generous contributions. Five high-tech low wattage floodlights have been installed. They have a splendid effect on the station, making it look very welcoming.”

Kettering Railway Station

Kettering Railway Station Refurbishment

EVENING TELEGRAPH Monday March 24 1980

The alterations currently being carried out at Kettering station should ensure that it would still be one of the finest examples of Victorian architecture remaining in the country. Work has been in progress since last year to replace the glass canopy covering the 19th century ironwork over the station platforms. It is hoped the whole project will be completed before the end of the year, and that the station will be restored as a reminder of the achievements of our Victorian forebears.

The fact that the restoration work is being carried out at all is something of a triumph for Kettering Civic Society. British Rail's original plan was to demolish the present structure and re-roof the platforms completely. But following pleas from the Civic Society that the station is a prime example of 19th century railway architecture and that is should be preserved, BR agreed to co-operate in the restoration.

The scheme has already cost BR 498 man-days of work and £45,000. Just over half the central part of the station - covering platforms 3 and 4 has been refurbished. The original glass is being replaced by translucent PVC, which should greatly reduce the cost of maintenance.

The old Midland Railway was particularly noted for its platform ironwork, and until recently Bedford and Kettering stations were the best surviving examples of the style. Now Bedford is due for demolition; so Kettering will remain supreme. Some of the ornate cast-iron pillars, which are such a feature of the two stations, will be transferred to Kettering from Bedford to replace worn-out specimens here

When the glasswork has been replaced on platforms 3 and 4 work will start on the remainder. A fresh coat of paint all round, and improvements to public facilities are also planned for 1980. The result, says Mr Fred Waterhouse traffic manager, at Corby with responsibility for Kettering and Wellingborough, will be that Kettering station will be the finest example of cast-iron railway architecture in the Midlands region.

The railway first arrived in Kettering only after strong opposition from local Owners. Mr Frank Thompson of Kettering Civic Society in some notes on the coming of the new mode of transport to the town, says:

In 1918, the Stockton and Darlington scheme (to extend the railway in the direction of Kettering) was presented to Parliament but was defeated on the grounds that it would interfere with fox coverts and hunting in the area. It was also thought that road tolls would be affected and the value of the franchise would be decreased.

In 1821, however, a bill was passed to allow the building of the line and in September, 1825, the line was opened. The development was of great interest to Kettering, and the prospect of it being one of the towns through which the Midland Railway would pass hailed with delight. Until this time the county of Northamptonshire had been almost totally lacking in modern methods of transportation and communication.

The travelling facilities and those available for the transport of goods and essential supplies were at this period very poor indeed. Of all the towns that the Midland Railway would pass through, Kettering would probably derive the most benefit. Coal, the driving force of the Industrial Revolution, was the main reason why.

Coal was being obtained from Market Harborough, and the additional cost of carting the coal made it very expensive. As a means of power it was costly, and as a means of heating it was beyond the pockets of most of the poor people of Kettering. A contemporary report notes: 'At this period, during winter, the poor could be seen purchasing a halt of a quarter of a hundredweight of coal'. The coming of the rail way would have a dramatic effect by reducing the cost of fuel by half. This would be a great benefit to residents, manufacturers and agriculturalists of the district, both on account of the more economical source of power and the great comfort in winter.

Goods and cattle at present being drawn or driven to and from Northampton to link with canal systems would now only need to be taken to the station.

A petition in favour of the railway was sent to Parliament by the inhabitants of Kettering and district. The petition pointed out the advantages of such a sys tem in getting fuels into the district and minerals out, as well as linking 'up with the northern manufacturers and the metropolis of London. The line was to be financed by the issue of stock to local people. A list of Kettering subscribers exists showing the Duke of Buccleuch to be the largest subscriber, to the tune of £3,000.

Kettering station was eventually constructed and opened in 1857. The occasion was celebrated by the declaration of a public holiday. A ball was arranged in Kettering Corn Exchange, and a public dinner held at the Royal Hotel on May 9, to celebrate the opening of the railway. The line was open for general traffic the next day. An express service was inaugurated between Leicester and Kettering, stopping at Kibworth and Market Harborough. The journey took an hour and 13 minutes.

The new line, and Kettering station, approached their heyday at the turn of the century, at which time nearly 200 people were employed at the station, providing a variety of services for gentry, traders and travellers of even the lowest classes. The station was greatly expanded in the late 1890s so that the increased volume of traffic could he catered for.

The following is an extract from the Evening Telegraph of February 11, 1898:

Passengers to and from the station who have been using it for the last 12 or 15 months have been aware that certain alterations have been in progress, hut they were hardly prepared to see such an elaborate block of buildings as is now revealed by the removal of the hoardings and scaffoldings. The station buildings are now brought some 40 feet nearer the town, and to those who have been so long used to the dingy and ill-arranged offices which have done duty for so many years, the change is a marvellous one. Near the principal entrance is a glass roof covering some 15 feet by 60 feet which will be much appreciated by the porters and public alike when the weather is unpropitious. The main entrance to the station is a special feature, and is a fine elliptical terra cotta arch, illuminated from the top by lantern lights. The gates are of wrought iron, and are of an open waked pattern. Oak and pitch pine barriers have been erected near the ticket windows, and now, instead of having only one little pigeon hole, three convenient places have been made for issuing tickets. The first will he confined to excursionists, the next for third-class passenger, and the last to those who can afford to book first class.

The contract, which amounts to between £8,000 and £9,000, was secured by Messrs E Brown and Son contractors of Wellingborough. The whole staff at Kettering now numbers about 180, and no less than £550 it paid per week in wages and salaries.