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Nairn Men’s Shed clock up the changes at Nairn Railway Station during open day

By Donald Wilson

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John Rushforth with fellow members Andy Insche (centre) and Roger Wilkinson (right).
John Rushforth with fellow members Andy Insche (centre) and Roger Wilkinson (right).

Nairn Men’s Shed based at Nairn Railway Station has held a successful open day where the public were able to view their premises and see the work carried out restoring disused buildings.

Since its formation six years ago, the group secured a base from ScotRail at the Victorian railway halt. Chairman John Rushforth said: “We have had a lot of help from ScotRail, the Railway Heritage Trust, Nairn Co-op Community Fund and the Davidson Trust and other generous funding partners.

“This has enabled us to convert one of the former waiting rooms on the south platform into a workshop and another on the north platform into a meeting place where we can do craft, art and other activities and to just relax, have a cuppa and chat.”

Former PM Harold Macmillan on a visit to Nairn railway station.
Former PM Harold Macmillan on a visit to Nairn railway station.

Men’s Sheds were launched in Australia to give men reaching retirement an opportunity to meet and engage in shared interests and reduce social isolation.

“It’s evolved from there and Nairn Shed is inclusive with lady members too,” said John.

“We have developed the buildings sympathetically to try to retain the character and the station history. One of our meeting rooms is named after our founding chairman, Jeff Baker, whose wife Sheena kindly bought at auction one of the ‘hot-dog’ signs which were removed from the station many years ago. It now has pride of place along with a large clock that once adorned Glasgow Central Station.

“One of our biggest supporters is ScotRail’s community liaison officer John Yellowlees. When we said we needed a clock we thought it was a wild idea but he produced the goods. They had six clocks in storage which had been in Glasgow Central but were no longer in use. Within a few weeks, it was delivered and we refurbished it and installed it in our Jeff Baker room.”

The group has also had fascinating talks on the station history from John Urquhart of Nairn Museum and Nairn County Football Club groundsman Derek Steel. Station Park is just a penalty kick’s distance from the railway line.

John added: “We already provide flower boxes on the platform and our plan is to do further horticultural work and restore the two redundant signal boxes, with one perhaps becoming a base for model train enthusiasts. One of the former signalmen Campbell Mackenzie, I’m told, lived in John Street and prided himself looking after the station. I’m sure he would be pleased with what we’re trying to do.”

The station has also had many famous visitors including former PM Harold Macmillan and US president Ulysses S Grant.

“A large crowd gathered when they heard the US president was at the station. One of the ladies in the crowd that day was a Mrs Mackay who he had met in America.”

Mr Rushforth said they were delighted with their open day which had to be delayed due to Covid.

“Over 100 people attended and they were given an insight into the group and the heritage of the station which we will continue to preserve as well as helping out local projects.”

Members of the shed were recently filmed for Channel Five show, the World’s Most Scenic Railways.

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