Restoration work at one of the world’s oldest rail stations in Derbyshire nears completion – with events planned for next month
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The ambitious project to save Wingfield Station from ruin and restore the building – thought to be one of the oldest purpose-built railway stations in the world – is nearing completion.
Close to the village of South Wingfield and between the current Midland Main Line stations of Belper and Chesterfield, the Grade II* listed building station has links to railway royalty George and Robert Stephenson and dates back to 1840.
The station was abandoned in the 1960s, however, after becoming a victim of the Beeching cuts – and was left to fall into disrepair.
In 2021, the building was taken over by Derbyshire Historic Buildings Trust (DHBT). When the team realised the building had been virtually unaltered since the 1800s, they decided to restore it to the same condition it was on the day it opened. Thanks to funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, this has included a meticulous process of reprinting original wallpaper, replicating paintwork to mimic stone and wood textures, and moulding cornices in situ.
DHBT are now looking forward to inviting visitors to see the results of the conservation work in a series of public events during the October half term break, as well as dates in November.
Project manager Peter Milner said: “Visitors who step through the door at our opening event on October 28 will be stepping into a vision of the past.
“We’ll even have a Victorian ticket officer and passengers in the waiting rooms to complete the illusion. We’re so grateful to have to the National Lottery Heritage Fund and National Lottery players for enabling us to get to this point.”
The launch day will also feature performances by the Shirland Brass Band at 11am and 12.30pm, and the Alfreton Male Voice Choir at 3pm.
Following the grand launch event on October 28, there will be a series of open days where you can book on a guided tour, or just drop in and enjoy the refurbished space and craftsmanship under your own steam. A family trail will guide younger visitors around the space, and a model of the railway as it was in the 1940s will be taking up its new home in the Goods Shed. There will be additional activities from Derbyshire Wildlife Trust on October 29 and Derbyshire Environmental Studies Centre on October 30.
Engagement co-coordinator Rachel Costigan said: “Research into the history of the station has been ongoing throughout the station’s restoration, and our research team will share its findings at South Wingfield Social Club on October 26.
“We’ll be inviting everyone to dust down recollections they have of the station in decades past to deposit for safe keeping in our ‘memory bank’. These will be locked away in the station’s original safe so they’re stored for the future.”
Peter Milner added: “Wingfield Station was at the forefront of the pioneer era of train travel. It’s the only surviving railway station from the era on the line, and its significance in railway history is of international importance. With a huge amount of support from the local community, grant funders including The National Lottery Heritage Fund and the craftsmen themselves, we’ve been able to save this building. We think that’s something worth celebrating.”
For full details of the events on offer, visit the DHBT website here. Car parking is limited so DHBT are encouraging people to use public transport to attend the events.