Restoration project brings derelict station office back to community use
PUBLISHED: 17:45 17 April 2019 | UPDATED: 17:45 17 April 2019
A scheme to rejuvenate a popular railway station has reached another major milestone.
Work to restore buildings on the north eastern corner of Lowestoft Railway Station has transformed the former station Parcels Office, enabling the creation of a new public exhibition space.
Over the past year the office has been completely restored with works including refurbished windows, installation of reclaimed flooring, new ceiling, electrics and heating.
Three sets of arched doors - closed for more than three decades - have been replaced, enabling routes to Lowestoft town centre to be reopened.
Due to open officially later this summer, the new facility will has the potential to host exhibitions, craft and antique fairs, meetings and a number of other community activities.
Andy Savage, executive director of the Railway Heritage Trust said; “The RHT has been delighted to sponsor these works on Network Rail's most easterly station.
“The creation of new community spaces in former empty areas is superb and we are delighted at how the project has been expanded to cover the whole appearance of the station, including the empty former buffet building, which is transformed by the new boarding and no longer such a blot on the town centre.”
Having been devised in 2016, the project has sought to work with local companies and tradesmen, with the construction and intricate restoration works undertaken by Oulton Broad based MS Oakes Ltd.
For many years much of the station appeared semi-derelict, with unused buildings boarded up and a drab colour scheme making the site seem unloved.
But now the entire station has received a heritage painting scheme, new signage and information displays, and a Victorian-style lighting scheme.
Principle funding has come from the Railway Heritage Trust and the Department for Transport's Designated Community Rail Development Fund, with further contributions from the East Suffolk Lines and Wherry Lines Community Rail Partnerships.
A further initiative has seen rotten hoardings around the former station buffet building replaced, helping to cosmetically improve and stabilise the site while further development opportunities are explored.
Work has also been undertaken to clear and fence off land adjacent to the site, significantly reducing anti-social behaviour and railway trespass incidents.
A 'superb restoration'
Lowestoft Railway Station dates back over 170 years and survived both world wars along with attempts to relocate it further west.
The station serves around 500,000 people each year, and between 1903 and 1970 it was called Lowestoft Central – and due to its location and prominence within the town, this was the name adopted by the project for its efforts to both restore and introduce new facilities to the site.
Community Rail Development Officer Martin Halliday, who scoped the initial plans for the station and has managed the project throughout, said: “From the outset we have sought to improve and restore the station, find new use for redundant space and cherish the Victorian architecture which has survived against all odds.
“We are hugely grateful to our funding partners, station staff, volunteers, contractors and Greater Anglia.
“Most importantly we wish to thank the Railway Heritage Trust for its support and guidance throughout the project, which has enabled a small team of local craftsmen to undertake some superb restoration work.
“We look forward to opening the new facilities and continue to work towards further improvements across the wider station site.”