Train of Thought

Moors Railway secures Lottery grant to restore historical station

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The North Yorkshire Moors Railway has received a major boost to its development plans, with a grant of almost £1million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

A grant of £998,000 is to be given to the ‘Train of Thought’ project, which aims to create a visitor and education centre at Pickering Station, including reinstating the station roof.

Over 300,000 visitors flock to the Railway every year, with the majority coming via Pickering Station, and they will soon get the chance to learn much more about the historic site.

Fiona Spiers, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “Railways are an iconic part of our local heritage and today’s news is a green light for the North York Moors Historical Railway Trust to transform the experience for the thousands of people who come to this historic site. The scheme will also safeguard the future of the station, ensuring future generations can enjoy it too. It services a railway which is nationally significant, being one of the earliest, and with connections to some of the leading engineers of the day.“

Murray Brown, Chairman of the North York Moors Historical Railway Trust, said he was very pleased by the news, and said it was to the credit of a small group of volunteers and staff that the project had won support from the Heritage Lottery Fund. He said: “It has been several years in the making and all along, we have felt that the ‘Train of Thought’ project will enable us to widen the appeal of the Railway, by giving visitors more information and opportunities to understand and interpret the Railway and its environment.”

Pickering Station is a Grade II listed building and is a fine example of early railway architecture situated within a Conservation Area. The programme of conservation works will return the station to its former glory, and will involve restoring the station roof to its original appearance, as in the period 1845–1952. The station roof will be built to the original design of its architect, GT Andrews. When completed, it will be the only example which the public can see of a G.T. Andrews roof over a steam railway.

It was back in 1951 that the station roof at Pickering was removed by British Rail. Trust Chairman, Murray Brown, says putting the overall roof back on will not only return it to its original state, but also offer weather protection to some of the historical coaches, as well as conserving the fabric of the station.

The project will also see the creation of a visitor centre and learning centre, to be situated behind Platform 2. This will include a classroom and an archive facility. Schools will be offered a curriculum based educational programme based upon the themes of how steam engines work, Victorian Railways, Wartime Evacuation Experience, the history of rail transport, how signal systems work and rail architecture.

In addition, a heritage signal box at the southern end of Platform 2 will be constructed based on original drawings, giving visitors the chance to try out heritage signaling apparatus

The site’s team of dedicated volunteers will be expanded with new volunteering opportunities including those of meet and greet hosts and explainers. Training opportunities will be developed for young people to help them to learn craft based vocational skills.

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