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Derbyshire Historic Buildings Trust Wingfield station - PROJECT UPDATE - SPRING 2020

WELCOME from derbyshire historic buildings trust

March 2020

Dear Friends

Many of you will be reading this newsletter having signed up for one of our two community launch events planned for March and April. We were absolutely thrilled at the response we had to these events - there is evidently a lot of interest in the Wingfield Station project - and we felt very disappointed when it became apparent that these would inevitably have to be postponed.

As the organisation leading on this project, Derbyshire Historic Buildings Trust (DHBT) recognises the need to keep people up to date with our plans and to have a dialogue with the community about what is happening. Consequently, we felt it would be a good idea to share some of what we would have presented at the events via this newsletter instead.

We also anticipated that a lot of questions would have been asked by you at the meetings, so we have created a very short online survey at the very bottom of this newsletter to give you a chance to feed back to us. Please fill this in so we know what is on your mind and any thoughts you've got about the project - both positive and negative! We'll follow up on these with answers via a second short newsletter which will also be available via our website and social media channels:

Finally...a little request for those living near to the station who might be taking their daily walk around the site - please can you act as our eyes and ears during this time and get in touch if you notice anything you think we should be aware of?

Thank you!

Email: wingfieldstation@gmail.com

Thanks again for your interest, support and patience.

Photograph: Hand over of the station keys between Amber Valley Borough Council and DHBT, 10th December 2019

A 'maimed beauty deserving better'

Wingfield Station: A Brief History

Wingfield Station, 1971

It has been said that railway architect Francis Thompson's best work was on the North Midland Railway, between Derby and Leeds. The only example still surviving is at Wingfield. Built in 1840, it is a single storey ashlar building in picturesque Classical style with overhanging eaves. The station name was carved in gilt lettering on the facade, around an ornamental clock. The centre piece of the building is the former booking hall and waiting room, whilst either side are wings, which would have provided ancillary accommodation. Slightly apart from the station building, on the north side, is a parcel shed of similar construction and design. The station was closed in 1967 and is in poor condition.

Christian Barman, who wrote one of the first studies of railway architecture, called it, 'the most perfect of all station houses'.

The railway was constructed between 1836 and 1840 by the North Midland Railway Company and to the engineering designs of George and Robert Stephenson. Today it is the fully operational Midland Main line between Derby and Leeds. In 2012 the Victorian Society declared the building a, 'maimed beauty deserving better', and included it on the list of the ten most important 'at risk' buildings in the country.

The building was Grade II listed in 1971 and upgraded to Grade II* in 2015. The site is situated in a designated Conservation Area. The station's platform was removed by British Rail post closure of the station and prior to its sale in, or about, 1970. For at least thirty years, the freehold owner was a private individual who, unfortunately, made little effort to arrest the decay of the structure or find a suitable and sustainable use for the building.

In September 2015, Amber Valley Borough Council (AVBC) resolved to use its planning powers to take action on three historic buildings in the Borough, including Wingfield Station. This was because the building was in such an advanced state of decay and disrepair that it was apparent that unless urgent action was taken to remedy the situation, elements of the structure were at risk of collapse.

With the support of Historic England and the Architectural Heritage Fund, DHBT worked closely with AVBC to serve a Compulsory Purchase Order on the building. After many months of work and development, ownership of the station was finally transferred to the DHBT on the 10th December 2019.

Supporters and team members assembled at the station on the 10th December 2019 for the hand over of keys from AVBC to DHBT.

the national lottery heritage fund project

Thanks to National Lottery players, funds from the National Lottery Heritage Fund have been awarded to DHBT to begin the task of rescuing and restoring the building.

An initial development grant of £137,000 has been allocated in order to undertake necessary initial work in preparation for developing the site as a commercial enterprise. Alongside using some of their own reserves, DHBT have also been awarded grant funding from the Architectural Heritage Fund and the Pilgrim Trust to support this project development phase. Capital (building) works do not normally commence during this project phase.

Once the necessary surveys, reports and consultations are completed DHBT will submit a second application to the National Lottery Heritage Fund for the main grant funding (the delivery phase). The hope is that they will then secure all the required funding to bring the station back to life.

The initial development phase normally takes up to two years to complete. DHBT had hoped to finish it in twelve months - submitting their second application in November 2020. However, this timetable might be sightly extended due to an opportunity to apply for additional funding from Historic England for urgent works (primarily the roof works and works required on the rail-side of the building) this year.

The proximity of the adjacent railway line adds considerable logistical and financial complexities to this project (i.e. Network Rail consent/licenses and supervision - there is a high cost associated with any works for which access is required to the railway demise) - especially when considering undertaking the necessary urgent works. DHBT have had to take into account factors such as any temporary protection materials having the potential to affect the operation of the railway line (and, consequently, resulting in DHBT being liable for immediate compensation of £5m payable to the applicable Rail Operating Companies!).

Consequently, DHBT are now preparing an application to Historic England to progress certain urgent works sooner rather than later. If successful, this could see repairs to the roof taking place during March-June 2021. The second application to the National Lottery Heritage Fund would then be submitted in early June 2021, with an outcome announced in September 2021. Capital works would then be completed in 2022.

The current Covid-19 situation aside, DHBT also consider this project as the perfect opportunity to engage with training organisations, students and apprenticeship courses. Similarly, much interest has been shown from railway related Trusts and Charities who are keen to get involved with the project.

Whilst the restoration of the building itself is a key outcome, telling the story of the station though memories and artefacts; arranging bursaries for young people to learn traditional craft skills and offering open days for the local community are also essential aspects that this project will seek to achieve.

Various external and internal aspects of Wingfield Station

conservation deficit

It is important for DHBT to gain an understanding of the financial position of the scheme in order to assess the 'conservation deficit' (the amount by which the cost of repairs exceeds the market value of the asset when repaired) and how much money is likely to be generated by going ahead with the project.

The building was designed for a specific project purpose - a railway station to support the growth of the North Midland Railway Company. That use ended in 1967 and will never be reinstated. There is an irony, therefore, that the biggest obstacle to a successful restoration scheme is the proximity of the railway!

There can be no doubt that, in the absence of an operational railway line, the station building would be one of the most sought after development projects in the county. Trying to evaluate the full financial impact of the reality - the 'nuisance value' of living within feet of regular high-speed trains, coupled with the increased cost of implementing building works adjacent to the track is neither simple, nor scientific.

Looking at various data and considering potential comparable situations, a Project Deficit of around £550k is currently estimated but this will continue to be reviewed by the project team as plans and work progress.

the project team

Three members of the DHBT Board of Trustees make up the Wingfield Station Project Steering Group:

Lead Trustee, Peter Milner FRICS, is one of the leading Development and Agency surveyors in the East Midlands with additional specialisms in Planning and Regeneration. Peter has practiced in the East Midlands for over 45 years and has extensive knowledge of property issues from his wide ranging experience

Barry Joyce MBE, FSA, Dip Arch, MSc. was a manager of a team of environmental specialists at Derbyshire County Council, dealing with archaeology, historic building conservation, historic area conservation, urban design, environmental education, landscape design and ecology. Having trained as an architect, he entered the field of planning and then gained a Masters Degree in building conservation.

Allan Morrison also trained as an architect and was employed by Derbyshire County Council as the Principal Historic Buildings Advisor for over 32 years. He has been involved with DHBT from inception and was the lead trustee on their previous National Lottery Heritage Fund project.

Since November 2019, DHBT have appointed a number of consultants to support the project development.

Project Co-ordinator

Project Co-ordiantor, Lucy Godfrey, is in post to support DHBT with compiling all the documentation required for the second round application to the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Lucy, who is based in Derbyshire, has been working in the museum and heritage sector for over twenty years. Lucy will also be responsible for identifying and helping to secure any additional funding shortfall that may be required.

Professional Design Team and Quantity Surveyor

Local architectural practice, James Boon Architects, have been appointed as the lead architects for the project. In coming weeks, James will be developing initial concept sketches and looking at various options to discuss with the local community and other key stakeholders. Working with James are Structural Engineers, Price & Myers and Mechanical and Electrical consultants, William Bailey Ltd, who are based in Ambergate. Greenwood Projects are providing Quantity Surveyor (cost) services.

Activity and Evaluation Consultants

Sheffield based consultancy, DBA, are working with DHBT to help identify project partnership opportunities and to discuss with groups and individuals what their hopes and desires are for the future uses and access to the building. DBA will also be creating an evaluation framework to help everyone involved with the project to see what is going well and where improvements need to be made.

Interpretive Designer

G+ Studio have been involved with the creative development of heritage projects for many years. They will be working with DHBT to help identify and deliver innovative ways of sharing the heritage of the station site with a variety of users and potential users. Examples may include displays and Audio Visual presentations, maps and graphics panels and models.

Heritage Consultant

Mel Morris, of Mel Morris Conservation, will be preparing an outline Conservation Plan, a Heritage Impact Assessment and offering general heritage consultancy advice to the team. Her work will be used to help plan future maintenance, conservation and repair works; improve public access and understanding; adapt the site to meet new uses; plan new design work; plan any policies that need to be put in place and to devise activities that will help people engage with the heritage.

DHBT are also working with the University of Derby with the appointment of a graduate intern who will undertake the role of Volunteer Co-ordinator.

south wingfield local history group

The South Wingfield Local History Group discussing the project, November 2019

Since the closure of Wingfield Station, many residents along with South Wingfield Parish Council have continuously campaigned to save and preserve this unique station.

In 2007 the newly formed South Wingfield Local History Group (SWLHG) took over the campaign to save the station and prevent the building from deteriorating further. One of the most important achievements of the group was the re-listing of the station's buildings. Over a number of years the group pressed English Heritage to consider amending the listing. A review was finally undertaken in 2014 with SWLHG being notified on 21st April 2015, 'that entry for Wingfield Station has been amended on the List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. The building is listed as Grade II*.'

The building continued to deteriorate and further representations by SWLHG to Historic England resulted in a swift reply to inform the group that the buildings were now included on the National Heritage at Risk Register and that AVBC had appointed a new officer, Adrian Anderson, to lead on the project. Adrain spoke at a SWLHG meeting in February 2018, explaining the process the Council would be following. Throughout the lengthy procedure resulting in Compulsory Purchase, Adrian kept SWLHG fully informed.

SWLHG are keen to be a partner in the future preservation of the station and will play an important role in helping to gather oral and social histories relating to the stories, reminiscences and memories of station users. This will help to illustrate the previous importance of the railway and station to this community for nearly 130 years.

The SWLHG 'Then and Now' exhibition in April 2019 featured the plight of the station and the actions to save it, along with a display of photographs, history and artefacts relating to the station. A number of residents shared their memories, for example,

'I remember a woman walking from Moorwood Moor down to the station in the morning to catch the train to Belper Mills and back at night. Oh you wouldn't do that walk now.'

'Parcels and deliveries from shops, breweries and businesses from all over came to the station for onward delivery to the pits, shops, mills, farms, businesses and households. I remember a boy on a delivery bike with a basket on the front cycling up the hill from the station and round the Rocks loaded with parcels.'

Many more fascinating stories have already emerged (thank you!) and these are very likely to be woven into the designs and themes that G+ Studio will be developing. If you've got information that you'd like to share with us about the station and the wider history of the locality, please download the form from our website or email Lucy (wingfieldstation@gmail.com):

It is very likely that the architectural plans will include the linking up of the station and parcel shed buildings via a new structure, which will be sensitively designed to minimise impact. It is possible that the parcel shed will become a meeting room, which will service both the offices and the local community - opening to the public for a set number of days each year as a community facility/lettable meeting room. Activities and permanent interpretation will be particularly important in terms of developing the audience and customer base for this facility.

The South Wingfield Local History Group sharing some of their displays at the key handover celebrations

Wingfield station: future use

In 2016 DHBT commissioned a Project Viability Study to help establish if they could or should play a part in assisting AVBC to save the building from continuing decay and restore the structure to a condition that ensured a sustainable future.

This appraisal involved considering various re-use options. It was concluded that the building would convert easily to create a workspace for B1 commercial uses (e.g. offices, design studio, research and development). Demand for business space in a rural setting is strong across the county and it was concluded that the proximity to the main line railway would be less of a concern to this sector than the residential market.

Other end-use options including a cafe/restaurant and self-catering holiday accommodation were also appraised. However, overall it was felt that converting the former railway and parcel shed to commercial use as offices would be the most viable approach and would appeal to the market because of being unique; having on-site car parking facilities and the logistical positioning close to the major rail and road networks.

Volunteer power

People gathering at the celebration event at South Wingfield Social Club following the hand over of keys

The project team have been overwhelmed by the amazing response from people wishing to offer to volunteer their time and get involved with the project. Thank you for your patience and interest. As soon as we are able to, we will be looking to firstly assemble all those who offered to support general site maintenance on site for a day or two of ground clearance.

Working with the Volunteer Co-ordinator, we hope to create a structure whereby there will be lead volunteers leading groups involved with Maintenance/ground work, Local Research and 'Welcome' Activities (e.g admin/events/fundraising).

If you are interested in volunteering and haven't yet completed a Volunteer Enquiry Form, you can find out more and download the form here.

Please tell us your questions/concerns/feedback by the 14th April 2020: