Platform lengthening resulted in insufficient space for their return
The Michael Valentine Memorial Garden before station renovations (Jim Linwood)
The two rowing boats that used to be a feature of Putney station are not going to return. Instead a memorial tile is to take their place as the narrowing of the platform during the recent lengthening has left insufficient space.
The Valentine family - Michael's widow and two of his children with their families still live in Putney - agreed instead that there would be tiles celebrating the Oxford and Cambridge boat race which are located on the upper level just past the ticket barriers,a nd there is also a plaque to Michael Valentine.
The two rowing boats were installed on Putney Station in the summer of 2009 and planted as a living memorial to long term Putney resident Michael Valentine who died in 2007 and as a celebration of the annual Oxford & Cambridge Boat Race which starts in Putney. In January 2013 the boats were removed and put in to storage whilst the lengthening of the station platforms was undertaken.
Michael was a student at Corpus Christi, Cambridge University, where he was a keen rowing enthusiast and the boat, which was delivered by train, was donated by Cambridge University. Network Rail and South West Trains (the operator at the time) helped install and plant it at the station. The second boat came from Regents Park College, Oxford. When living in Putney Michael became a member of the London Rowing Club on Putney Embankment.
A Network Rail spokesperson said, "Safety is our number one priority, so we are unable to reinstate the memorial boat shells at Putney Station due to the trip hazard they present for passengers and the space they previously occupied being required for passenger circulation.”
Planters on platforms from The Bee Friendly Trust
Michael's daughter Baroness Valentine told PutneySW15.com, “When Network Rail lengthened the platforms they also had to narrow them to make the rail lines a bit straighter for the longer trains. There would not have been enough space for the boat garden as a result. We agreed instead to put tiles celebrating the Oxford and Cambridge boat race on the upper level and we are delighted that there is a memorial tile there to Michael Valentine. Also, the Bee Friendly Trust has put plant boxes where the garden used to be, so we have the best of both worlds”.
Dr Luke Dixon at The Bee Friendly Trust told this website, "The planters at Putney Station were the first of what is becoming a nationwide project. We wanted to help the bees in the area have somewhere to forage for nectar and pollen, and we wanted to brighten up the commute for the many passengers who use the station everyday. It has been a great success and we get many happy messages from travelers who appreciate their usefulness and beauty".
As well as the planters on Putney Station, The Bee Friendly Trust has planters at East Putney and most recently at Putney Bridge (these were installed on Saturday 21 April), and at neighbouring Barnes and Richmond main line stations.
April 26, 2018