Following a meeting today at which a representative of the Railways Heritage Trust and Amber Valley Borough Council attended we have learned of the increased urgency to save Wingfield Station.
The station which is included on the list of case study buildings for our HLF funded project has been described by Christian Barman in his book “An introduction to Railway Architecture, Art & Technics” in 1951 as ‘The Most Perfect of All Railway Stations’ and proclaimed by the Victorian Society as a “Maimed Beauty”, this masterpiece of railway architecture is one of the oldest surviving examples of a rural railway station, not just in the country but in the world. Designed by Francis Thompson of Derby for the North Midland Railway Company and built in 1839-40 of natural ashlar gritstone under a hipped and slated roof with reflections of a Victorian suburban villa.
It is now the sole survivor of Thompson’s stations between Derby and Leeds and has strong group value with the Grade II listed contemporary station master’s house and boundary wall, also by Thompson, and is the single surviving first generation station amongst the many original bridges which are listed on this line. The station became a Grade II listed building in 1971 and has such significance that Historic England agreed to revise this to Grade II* in 2015. Admired by so many revered organisations including the Railway Trust and the Victorian Society, this fine building has, since closure in 1967, endured a never ending decay of its condition and building fabric. In private ownership since the late 1970’s, little has been done to either protect or restore this acknowledged rarity. The Victorian Society includes the Station in its top ten most endangered buildings and it appears on the Buildings at Risk register of Historic England.
Prior to the more recent study the building as always been considered by the trust to be one of the buildings in Derbyshire that is most in need and though negotiations with the owner have been ongoing no immediate solution has ever been found. Following our meeting this need for a solution has been heightened with the news that the line which passes very close to the building is be electrified in the very near future. This work which is programmed to take place in 2018 will mean that a very small window of opportunity to undertake work to the building will exist during a planned line closure. Once electrified it is going to be a very different story with very expense line closures needed to gain access to the track side of the property.
We are now investigating options that will allow works to proceed with avoidance of increased costs and it is hoped that collaboration by all parties will lead to a satisfactory conclusion.