As the Market Rasen railway station building prepares to reopen following three years of renovation and restoration work, we take a look at how this important Victorian landmark has been brought back into use after spending 21 years standing empty.
When the railway arrived in Market Rasen in the mid-19th Century, it changed the lives of those living here forever.
The town was once described by Charles Dickens as the “sleepiest” in England and prior to 1848, the only way to explore beyond its borders was via horse and cart.
But with the exponential growth of rural rail services, Market Rasen was instantly connected to the outside world.
Trade opportunities were opened up and visitors flocked from across the country to visit the Market Rasen Races.
What started out as a stop-off on the Great Grimsby, Manchester and Sheffield Junction Railway, remains a busy and popular stop on today’s Grimsb -Lincoln-Newark line, now managed by East Midlands Trains.
It is used by 65,000 people a year and the Market Rasen Station Adoption Group has kept the platform, car park and garden areas looking spick and span since 2008.
Yet, despite the station’s frequent use and popularity, its buildings have not fared so well.
The waiting rooms and ticket office closed in 1995 and, despite several short-lived attempts to restore the building over the past two decades, the cost of repairs proved prohibitive and the good intentions were derailed.
The Grade II listed building was placed on the local authority’s ‘At Risk’ register and the once important landmark fell into disrepair.
Most of the original doors on the platform side were lost; the floor was switched for a beam and block replacement and the roof was in bad repair.
However, its fortunes were to change when the building was put up for auction in 2015.
Lincoln-based construction company Lindum Group identified its significance to the local community and made a successful bid of £50,000.
Shortly afterwards, the Market Rasen Station Community Project Ltd was set up, which leased the building from Lindum on a peppercorn rent for 25 years.
The group included people from Market RasenTown Council, De Aston School and other local businesses.
Led by chair Emma Wardell, it prepared a bid for money from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to bring to life a masterplan, which would see the decaying building transformed into a community facility and help people learn about its rich heritage.
Roll on three years, and the hard work of the dedicated band of volunteers has paid off.
While no longer serving as a waiting room for travellers, the building is now home to a Heritage Centre which charts the history of the station, a community room and business space, which is home to two local companies, employing 10 people between them.
Part of the funding enabled local historian Hazel Barnard, the project’s Heritage Officer, to gather fascinating insights from many people who lived and worked at the station.
On Saturday, September 8 from 12.30pm, the community group will officially open the Market Rasen Railway Station building once more.