Posted by: Belinda Hargreaves
Tue 24th October 2023
Derbyshire Historic Buildings Trust has announced that a woman who once lived at the world’s oldest surviving purpose built, rural railway station is set to re-open the restored building this week.
Enid Buxton (née Barlow) lived at Wingfield Station near Alfreton as a child in the 1950s when her father William Barlow was station master there. A few years after the Barlow family moved on to live and work near Salford, Wingfield station was closed in the 1960s Beeching cuts. It then declined for over half a century into near dereliction.
A spokesman for Derbyshire Historic Buildings Trust (DHBT) said: “Wingfield station’s distinction is that it’s the only remaining station building on the Derby to Leeds line, built in 1840 by railway pioneers, George and Robert Stephenson. After a long process to secure ownership of the building and restore it to its former condition, Derbyshire Historic Buildings Trust are delighted that Enid will officially re-open the station on Friday, October, 27.”
The Victorian Society recognised Wingfield station as one of the top ten most important buildings in the country at risk of being lost forever.
Project Manager Peter Milner said: “It’s great to be able to relieve the building of that accolade. “Visitors who come through the door at our opening event on October 27, and then at the public event on October 28, will be stepping into a vision of the past.
“It’s a rare chance for the public to see the fabulous work that’s taken place.”
The opening day marks the start of a programme of events which are set to give the public a chance to see the station before it is handed over to new office tenants.
DHBT states that it is “hugely grateful” to the National Lottery Heritage Fund for valuable financial aid over the last three years for this project.
Their spokesman said: “The fund has made it possible not only to carryout restoration work on the building, building on emergency repairs supported by Historic England, but also to involve local people in the building’s revival through events and activities.”
Robyn Llewellyn, Director, England, Midlands & East at The National Lottery Heritage Fund said: “It’s fantastic to see the transformation of Wingfield Station take shape. It’s thanks to National Lottery players that the repair, preservation, and enhancement of one of world’s oldest country railway stations has been possible and will continue to be enjoyed by future generations.”
The National Lottery Heritage Fund has also made it possible for many people to be involved in the project. This includes photography students from the University of Derby who have documented the restoration process. The resulting exhibition ‘Hidden Histories: Wingfield Station’ can be viewed at a series of upcoming open days.
Gemma Marmalade, University of Derby’s photography programme leader, said: “Projects like this are a fantastic opportunity to give students real-life experience from pitching for the opportunity to producing an exhibition.”
The public open day, on Saturday, October 28, between 11am and 4pm, will start when re-enactors bring the station to life.
Visitors will be able to get a stamp from the ticket clerk, or meet passengers in the waiting rooms.
The launch day will also feature Shirland Brass Band at 11am and 12.30pm, and the Alfreton Male Voice Choir at 3pm.
There will be a self-guided trail to introduce families to the story of the station. It will also be the first chance to see a model railway of the line as it was in the 1940s that’s been specially built for the goods shed.
For full details of the opening day, visit the Derbyshire Historic Buildings Trust website. Car parking is limited so DHBT are encouraging people to use public transport to attend the events.
More about Wingfield Station
Wingfield Station, which is situated in Holm Lane, South Wingfield, was built in 1839-40 to the designs of Francis Thompson for the North Midland Railway, and is listed Grade II* for its historic interest.
It forms part of a series of railway structures built of the North Midland Railway, which was designed by two of the most important and influential engineers of the railway era (George and Robert Stephenson).
The line is considered to be one of the best preserved examples of the pioneering phase of railway development in England, and Wingfield Station thus forms an early, rural railway ensemble of outstanding interest.
It’s the sole survivor of Thompson’s notable sequence of picturesque stations between Derby and Leeds, and is one of the earliest railway stations in England, and therefore the world. Indeed, the Victorian Society recognised it as one of the top ten most important buildings in the country at risk of being lost forever.
Although Wingfield is still next to the mainline, the last train to actually leave the station was in the 1960s. From then on, it slowly fell into near dereliction until DHBT stepped in.
After emergency repairs in 2022 made the building externally watertight, now the meticulous interior restoration to the same condition as when it opened in 1840 is almost complete.
Recreations of the original wallpaper have been printed and hung in the ladies waiting room. Chemical analysis of paint fragments has ensured the right colour paint’s been used. Plaster cornices have been moulded in situ, using traditional techniques.
All these details do justice to the station’s history and its Grade II* listing. After the opening, the building will be handed over to office tenants, but there will remain a handful of days each year when it will be open for guided tours.
About Derbyshire Historic Buildings Trust (DHBT)
The DHBT was set up as a county-wide Building Preservation Trust in 1974.
Since then it has delivered 21 projects saving 94 historic buildings – including their offices in Wirksworth.
The DHBT aims to: safeguard the historic buildings we treasure; creatively reuse buildings no longer fit for purpose; help people to live or work in their historic buildings; increase people’s access to and enjoyment of their heritage.
Are you involved in a community project within the Alfreton area? Email our Editor Belinda at email@example.com.
Photo from Derbyshire Historic Buildings Trust Facebook page.
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