It’s finally happening!

At long last, we have some excellent news to report.

We have been awarded a £250,000 grant from the London Northwestern Railway (LNR) ‘Customer and Communities Improvement Fund’ (CCIF). The first instalment is already in our bank account and we are just putting the finishing touches to the lease agreement with Network Rail so that we can start spending it.

We are enormously grateful to LNR who, despite having to deal with the steep decline in passenger numbers caused by the pandemic over the last 18 months, as well as a major reorganisation in the structure of the rail industry, have managed to keep hold of this funding from the Department for Transport, which was first announced in late summer 2019.

The money will enable us to complete Phase 1 of the project, which is to restore the fabric of the building and equip it for use as a community hub – a space which will be available for the community to use for events, exhibitions, meetings or social occasions.

Our ultimate aim is to transform the building into a tea room with an Edwardian flavour, honouring the heritage of the building and providing it with a sustainable income stream for the long term. However, this may have to wait for ‘Phase 2’ and will almost certainly require further fundraising. It is understood that a CCIF ‘Round 2’ will open for bids in late 2021 or early 2022, and we will be in the queue.

Phase 1 needs to be complete by the end of March 2022 and so work has begun in earnest to engage, via our architects Sheldon Peever, with the supply chain. For example, we have already had quotations from window and door suppliers, since restoring the windows with authentic sash replicas will be a ‘signature’ part of the work but they will also be on a long lead time and constitute a significant part of the cost.

It goes without saying that this grant is the key to finally unlocking our dream of restoring the station, which has now been out of public use for around 55 years, almost as long as it was in railway service. By the time the work is completed next March, it will have been over 4 years since the Trust was formed, but this objective has been talked about for decades.

The photo attached shows, from right – Trustees Laurie Hart, Dave Horton and Robert Yorke posing for a photo at the station, along with Vicky Cropper-Clarke, Head of Stakeholder and Community at LNR. This photo was taken in November 2020. It has taken since then to dot the i’s and cross the t’s of the funding contract and the lease with Network Rail, hence the time lag!

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