Offices plan for north Derbyshire railway station left to rot for 40 years

A historic north Derbyshire railway station left to rot for decades is set for a new lease of life.

By Jon Ball
Wednesday, 24th March 2021, 1:45 pm

Wingfield Station, which has been virtually untouched since it closed in 1967, had been named as one of the country’s most important ‘at risk’ buildings.

But it is now set for a new lease of life after being taken over by Derbyshire Historic Buildings Trust, with restoration work set to begin with the aim of restoring the building, and accompanying parcel shed, to their original 19th Century condition and leasing them out as office space.

Peter Milner, lead trustee for the project, said: “We intend to give the building a new lease of life.

“It’s great to know we are a step closer to taking the building off the at-risk register and ensuring its survival for years to come.”

The station, beside the Midland Main Line between Chesterfield and Derby, was built by the North Midland Railway in 1840, after famous engineer George Stephenson who lived in Chesterfield’s Tapton House, commissioned railway architect Francis Thompson to design 24 stations along its route from Derby to Leeds.

However, it closed in 1967, under Lord Richard Beeching’s Reshaping of British Railways report, and was later sold, although the station platform was removed.

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Peter Milner, Derbyshire Historic Buildings Trust lead trustee for the restoration project, and Lucy Godfrey, project co-ordinator, with an information board outside the station.

Station fell into disrepair

Despite its private purchase, the building remained almost untouched and fell into disrepair – The Victorian Society named it one of the country’s 10 most threatened Victorian and Edwardian structures in 2012.

It was then granted Grade II*-listed status by Historic England in 2015 for its historical interest and rarity, as the sole survivor of Thompson’s NMR stations and as one of the earliest railway stations in England, and therefore the world.

Mr Milner said: “The real boost for the building came when the South Wingfield Local History Group persuaded Historic England to upgrade its listing to Grade II*.

The station is in urgent need of roof repairs.

“That was immensely significant. It encouraged Amber Valley Council to do something positive to save it and it did.”

The building was compulsorily purchased by the council in 2018, after a repairs notice served on the owner was not acted on, with ownership passing to DHBT in November 2019.

Mr Milner said: “We were asked by Amber Valley to partner with it during the purchase. When it was completed we were handed the keys and ownership, on the understanding we carry out its restoration.”

Now, after a year of planning, including securing funding support from Historic England and negotiating a temporary closure of the adjacent 100mph railway lines to allow for scaffolding to be erected around the building, phase one of the scheme is set to begin, involving urgent work to repair the roof.

Samuel Russell's lithograph of Wingfield Station, circa 1842.

Offices plan for former station

A planning application has been submitted to Amber Valley Council, seeking permission and listed building consent for the “conversion of former train station into offices including re-roofing, renovation works and internal alterations”.

The trust hopes to complete phase one by the end of the year, with final work on the interior starting in spring 2022.

Mr Milner said: “The point is to restore the building and save it. It needs a lot of TLC.

“The planning application includes a change of use to offices. The trust will run the building and it will be a long-term income stream by letting it as offices.”

And despite the station’s seemingly isolated location, up a track off Holme Lane, between Four Lane Ends and South Wingfield, Mr Milner said it has already attracted interest from businesses.

He said: “It’s only one-and-a-half miles from the A38 and then five minutes from Junction 28 of the M1. It’s a very good spot.”

​Derek Latham, trust chairman, said: “Wingfield Station is just one of many heritage buildings at risk in Derbyshire that we want to see saved and restored for the benefit of our communities in perpetuity. We hope the rescue of Wingfield Station will encourage more action to be taken to secure the future of others on the list.”

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