Puddle Fact: The first train station in the UK was Liverpool's Crown Street
The story of Station House
Back in July, our friends from the Walton Lea Project and MacIntyre came up with a brilliant seed of an idea - “let’s create an outdoor track here at The Puddle Project!” Initially the idea involved a railway, but we soon realised their idea could have even more uses: a race track, walkway and railway in one. Talking through the idea, we also decided to add an outdoor building to the centre of the track, which would become The Station House, AKA an additional outdoor/indoor learning space. The Puddle Project exists to provide the activities, facilities and events our regular visitors want, so we set about bringing their ideas to life. They identified the ideal location in our woodland between the Lilly Pad pond and our 9-hole mini golf course (also designed by the service users). To help us with the technical side of things, we enlisted our fab friends at Wickes Building Supplies.
Everyone was so excited to make it happen!
Clearing the site and laying the foundations
As you can imagine, there was a lot to do to transform an area of shrub land into a wooden track with a station. The Wickes North West Management team joined us on site over the summer to be briefed by the service users on their vision for the track. They did not hold back on their very specific requirements - and rightly so!
Once the plans had been drawn up, site clearance work followed, with foundations and framework for the decking, walkway and fencing put in place. Then came the building structure, walls, windows, roof, flooring and a coat of grey paint to help it blend in with its surroundings.
Puddle service users from MacIntyre and Walton Lea worked with volunteers from Wickes when they were on site together, learning useful skills and knowledge from designing with nature in mind to accessibility and site drainage. Thanks to their combined efforts, The Station House and its track was completed at the end of September 2023 and is ready to witness some epic Sinclair C5 race action.
Here’s what the team from Wickes had to say:
“The Puddle Project is brilliant because it’s used by lots of different community organisations. People who come here are treated as equals. If someone says they can’t achieve something, they come here and they are encouraged to reach for the stars.”
Andy Ludgate, Store Manager, Wickes Warrington
"Our Wickes Community Programme has supported over 2000 projects up and down the country. It's a great initiative that enables our store colleagues to help their local community with product donations to maintain or transform their community space.This includes schools, community gardens and scout groups. The Puddle Project really is unique and it was so lovely to visit and be a part of The Masked Singer event."
Naomi Woodstock, Wickes PR and Community Programme Manager and Charity Chair
To celebrate completion of the project, we invited Puddle Service users, their families, and our friends from Wickes to come and enjoy the new facility with a special Masked Singer contest.
The sun shone brightly on Friday 29th September as our masked singers treated us to some memorable performances from The Lily Pad stage. Amy Winehouse, the Super Mario Brothers, and various wild and extinct animals sang their hearts out. You simply have to check out the Families United tiger!
Watching a Home-Start T-Rex singing ‘I Will Survive’ by Gloria Gaynor was pretty surreal, and it also sums up what The Puddle Project is all about - bringing people together to enjoy what the site has to offer, celebrating our differences and being whoever we want to be.
Local singer Ellie Dibben (legend) entertained our guests as they enjoyed a delicious lunch provided by Stonebakers Wood Fired Pizza and enjoyed a (non-alcoholic) drink at the Drunken Duck puddle side bar.
So, to the question you’re probably itching to ask... Who was behind the mask?
The judging team, made up of service users, scored each act and had the tricky task of choosing the ultimate winner. Drumroll please... our winning act was Gaz the Minion from Team Puddle with his rendition of Elton John’s ‘Your Song’!
What's Happening Next at The Puddle Project?
Stage two of The Station House project involves connecting the building to a renewable electricity supply. Once it has heating, lighting and furniture, our service users will be able to start using The Station House as an additional learning space, as well as enjoying the flexible track. Building a train is also high on our Team Puddle priority list!
Plans for the rest of the year include seasonal activities for Halloween and Christmas celebrations and events.
Finally, it’s important to say none of this would have been possible without our friends at Wickes, MacIntyre and the Walton Lea Partnership, It’s been a real team effort.