Shropshire Star

Watch: Historic railway station restoration plans explained

The people of Oswestry have been learning about a £900,000 restoration of the town's historic railway station building.


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The Cambrian Railway building in Oswestry is currently clad in scaffolding as restoration work takes place to bring the Grade II listed property back to its heyday.

Wednesday saw a drop-in session at the building where people were able to find out about the plans for future of the site – and the work currently going on.

Those visiting included the daughter of a former owner, who ran a DIY store from the building until the early 1990s, and one man who lived in flats which used to be based on the first floor.

The Grade II-listed building, originally opened in 1866.

Rob Williams, Chair of Cambrian Heritage Railways, and Stationmaster Jenny Pickstock.

It is understood to have had multiple uses since it ceased operating as a railway station in 1966.

Following many years of neglect Shropshire Council took possession of the building in early 2023, after it had suffered storm damage the previous year.

The ground floor is currently let to Cambrian Heritage Railways, a local railway charity, which runs a railway out of the site, while the first floor is vacant and unlet.

Vicky Griffiths's father previously owned the building which he used for a DIY shop.

January this year saw the council approve £270,000 towards its restoration – which makes a total of £900,000 when matched with money from the government.

Peter Gilbertson, Shropshire Council's senior officer working on the project was present at the event to show people the work that is currently taking place.

He said the efforts should see the outside of the building completely 'safe, secure and watertight' by the time it is completed in March next year – including fixing the decorative corbels which surround the roof.

Staff Phil Bradley and Beth Gloster at the railway.

He said: "The project we have got on at the moment is to repaint the outside of the building

"We have had these various structural reports that have come back that said these corbels, they were actually stuck onto the building when it was being built just at the very end.

"They don't form any sort of structural purpose they are purely ornamental and they are made out of Portland Cement which was at the time a modern building material – very brittle but very hard.

Rob Williams, Chair of Cambrian Heritage Railways, and Stationmaster Jenny Pickstock.

"What happened was some poor guy had to sort of climb up a ladder and then effectively attach these onto the wall and hammer it in with a couple of big iron nails with cement at the back.

"That has lasted for about 150 years but now those metal pins have rusted, the little ledge they were sitting on has become loose, and those iron pins have rusted and the cement has lost its adhesion so all these corbels are at risk of falling off and we've already seen one fall off two years ago.

"So unfortunately for the time-being the scaffolding has to stay as a safety measure but what we are looking to do this winter, this autumn and through into the spring is reattach those corbels underneath the roof eave, replace that string of course they are sitting on, reattach them with a permanent bond – where necessary we might have to re-mould some of those corbels because some of them have been lost or shattered over the time and then also we are going to re-roof the building with Welsh slate.

Train driver Phil Ellson at the railway station.

"At the moment it has got a composite tile that has asbestos in it. That was put on about 40 years ago the first time the building had a major restoration and unfortunately that's not acceptable from a health and safety point of view. So we are looking to put Welsh slate back on that roof, replace those corbels and then repaint the outside of the building and that will mean the outside of the building is safe secure and watertight hopefully for the next 150 years."

The old station when it was a DIY store

Mr Gilbertson added: "Then the outside of the building will be looking at its best and our efforts will focus on supporting the trust and looking at the inside of the building."

While the restoration work is focused on the outside of the building, the future will look at potential uses for the first floor.

Cambrian Heritage Railways has had a tenancy of ground floor of the building for two years, using it as a tourist space, shop and ticket office.

The last passenger train from Gobowen to Oswestry in 1966..

Chair of the charity, Rob Williams, attended the open day and said the building offers exciting opportunities for the future.

He said: "There is a huge potential to actually grow the range of use within the building from educational uses to other community-based uses as well so it's a very multi-faceted project."

The day also saw Vicky Griffiths dropping in to take a look at the plans, with her father, Dennis Hinton previously owning the building as a DIY shop.

He bought the building in 1979 and had it until around 1992/93, with the first floor providing ten flats.

Another visitor to the open day was Paul Griffiths, who used to live in one of the flats.

He revealed that at the time the flats had no central heating and he survived using electric heaters, but he admitted he would consider a return if the site is redeveloped for housing.

He said: "It is a shame to see it like this, it does need tidying up and looking after."