A tea room earmarked for Batley Station is to be named after Jo Cox, the Labour MP for Batley & Spen who enjoyed getting her hands dirty.
Eighteen months after volunteers formed the Friends of Batley Station – or FOBS – many are quietly confident that the tea room, part of a larger station makeover, could be up and running by next spring.
FOBS members led by chairwoman Gwen Lowe are arranging to have the water supply reconnected in the former cafe prior to fitting a new kitchen.
In the meantime they are planning to offer drinks and festive snacks in the run-up to Christmas.
“For years people have been moaning about the dark and dismal station at Batley ,” said Mrs Lowe, a Labour councillor for Batley West. “It needed a lot of TLC. So 18 months ago I suggested setting up FOBS and we have been working really hard ever since.”
Among those involved from the project’s beginnings was Jo Cox, prior to becoming the local constituency MP.
“Jo loved it,” said Mrs Lowe. “She got stuck in and got her hands dirty. And she did love tea and cake! We do miss her being there with us.”
A planter filled with flowers has already been dedicated in Jo’s memory. Fresh plants will be supplied on a regular basis by a local florist.
Now FOBS members have met with Jo’s family to discuss naming the tasteful tea rooms after her. And with backing from former franchise operator Northern Rail, the Rail Heritage Trust and Birstall-based PPG Architectural Coatings, which “loaned” more than 100 employees to spruce up the site with a lick of paint, the cafe is edging closer to becoming reality.
An added touch of class was provided by artist Mark Peacock, who created a mural depicting iconic venues from the town’s history in the subway that links the two platforms.
Mrs Lowe described the once neglected station, which was opened in 1848, as “the gateway to Batley” and said it was important to give visitors a good first impression of the town.
After campaigning for the installation of a ticket machine and raising money to fix roof panels the FOBS are now seeking extra funding to make their dreams a reality.
Commuters passing through the station on the afternoon of December 9 and the morning of December 10 will be greeted by volunteers proffering hot drinks and mince pies.
“There hasn’t been a cafe here for donkey’s years,” said Mrs Lowe. “It’s time that changed.”
Mair, a far-right extremist, did not enter a plea and did not present any evidence at his trial.
After the sentencing, Jo’s widower Brendan said he felt ‘nothing but pity’ for Mair.