A woman who once lived at the world’s oldest surviving purpose-built, rural railway station in Derbyshire is to re-open the £1.7 million restored building later 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. Wingfield station’s main 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.
The Victorian Society recognised Wingfield station as one of the top ten most important buildings in the country at risk of being lost forever. After a long process to secure ownership of the building and restore it to its former condition, Derbyshire Historic Buildings Trust (DHBT) is delighted that Mrs Buxton will officially re-open the station on Friday, October 27, and Derbyshire Live will be in attendance.
The public open days start on October 28, when re-enactors will bring the station to life – you can get a stamp from the ticket clerk, or meet passengers in the waiting rooms. The launch day will also feature the 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.
After emergency repairs in 2022 made the building externally watertight, interior restoration was made to the same condition as when it opened in 1840. 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 has been used. Plaster cornices have been moulded in situ, using traditional techniques.
Project manager Peter Milner said: “It’s great to be able to relieve the building of the Victorian Society accolade. Visitors who come through the door at our opening event on Friday, and then at the public event on Saturday, 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 that will give the public a chance to see the station before it is handed over to new office tenants. Anyone visiting should be aware there is no parking on the site.
The National Lottery Heritage Fund donated funds to make much of the work possible. Robyn Llewellyn, heritage fund director for the East Midlands, said: “It’s fantastic to see the transformation of Wingfield Station take shape.”
Other people who have been involved in the work include 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.
Wingfield Station 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 for 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 station of outstanding interest. It is one of the earliest railway stations in England, and therefore the world. Trains still rush through the station but one hasn’t stopped there for almost 60 years.