Preston’s tired-looking railway station has been given a much-needed makeover – with help from an adopted Lancastrian.
Tom Hicks, 90, a Cornishman by birth, has lived in the county for 65 years and has grown to love Preston so much that he’s penned a poem about the city, which now adorns the new station entrance.
After coming runner-up in a Guild poetry competition run by Preston Poet Society, Tom’s work was brought to the attention of Sue Haworth, Virgin group station manager, who thought it would be ideal to welcome visitors to the city.
And station bosses have also moved to brighten up the train station’s exterior, one of the primary gateways into the city.
Flower beds, updated signs and a new ticket machine have been installed.
Sarah Jones, manager of Preston station, which welcomed more than four million passengers last year, said: “This is the gateway to Preston and we wanted to evoke the spirit and pride of the city at the entrance.
“People who come here want to feel welcome and I think this works really well.”
Mr Hicks’ poem is called Score after Score. It is a 32-line rhyming poem tells the history of Preston from Guild year to Guild year, featuring famous Prestonians such as Sir Tom Finney and Harry Duckworth, former conductor of the Orpheus Choir.
The great-grandfather of two said: “It feels very nice to see my work on the entrance. I’ve tried to capture the history of Preston Guild and to celebrate what’s great about the area.
“I think I’ve been here long enough to be called an adopted Lancastrian, and I’m very proud of Preston, particularly the nice parks in the area.”
Mr Hicks, who moved to Barrow to work on submarines after serving in the Second World War, met his wife in Lancashire and the couple started a family in Lostock Hall.
He has never trained in literature, but says poetry is something that comes naturally to him.
He added: “I write maybe a dozen poems a year.
“It’s not the main thing in my life, my family is, but when I’m out and about and something strikes me, I will start a poem.”
A second poem, by Preston Poet Society secretary Dorothy Nelson, is to be displayed in the station’s waiting room, as part of an overhaul that has also seen the introduction of flower beds, a new ticket machine and new signage at the entrance.
Called Preston Station, Dorothy penned the ode for the Guild competition while on a train on her way home to Appley Bridge near Wigan.