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Albrighton rail station on track to get new lease of life

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[gallery] A £1 million project to save Albrighton Train Station is due to be completed this summer.

A view of the railway station today, which will be saved by a £1 million project

Rundown, neglected and rusting – all words used to describe Albrighton Train Station, until the town's Civic Society joined forces with Network Rail to something about it.

Two years ago, Albrighton and District Civic Society began speaking to the train company to see if they could do something to bring the once thriving station back to life.

After many meetings, letters and site visits, it was agreed the station was worth preserving and a £1 million project was launched to save it.

The scheme, which is due to be completed this summer, will see the Grade II listed station's platforms and footbridge refurbished, as well as improvements made to its existing buildings.

Plans are also in the pipeline to renovate the station master's building, although the society will have to raise money for that project through other means.

Peter Woodman, chairman of the Civic Society, said: "Albrighton Station was in a rundown, neglected state, yet it was crucial to residents who used it.

"The society has worked with Albrighton Parish Council for more than two years to lobby Network Rail to persuade it to carry out much needed refurbishment.

"We have had support from local MP Mark Pritchard, who also lobbied on our behalf.

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"The successful outcome was Network Rail pledged to spend £1 million on the station."

The line was first surveyed in 1846, with one of the engineers being a certain Robert Stephenson.

In 1849, Albrighton station – along with Oakengates, Shifnal and Codsall – were built at the former Workhouse Lane site, in Albrighton, which became Station Road.

The first train on the line ran from Shrewsbury to Wolverhampton on November 12, 1849.

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Two engines, the Salopian and Wrekin, built at Stafford Road Railway Works in Wolverhampton, pulled 50 carriages.

In 1854 the line was taken over by the Great Western Railway and, in 1880, they revamped their services. An express service ran daily from Paddington to Birkenhead, leaving London at 4.45pm.

Due to the faster times and increased traffic, a footbridge was erected over the line in 1883, together with other improvements to the station. Albrighton was one of the busiest on the line by 1890.

Ernie Howell, a member of Albrighton Historical Society, said at its peak the station had five lorries, one of which was the Foden steam lorry.

He said: "When sugar beet came in there could be up to 25 cars on the line, with some sent in from other depots.

"It was also the main yard for cattle arriving from Ireland on their way to slaughter.

"When Cosford was built in 1938, Albrighton became somewhat downgraded with more signalling being transferred to the new station.

"With Dr Beeching's cuts in the 1960s, the station and the whole line was further downgraded, with just one light diesel for passengers only, and freight diminishing.

"Albrighton is now an unmanned halt with passengers the guard on the train.

"The goods yard accommodates some local industry such as Press Computer Services and a caravan storage area.

"The station building was, until recently, used as an Indian restaurant."

Plans for the former station master's building are also being put forward and, just last week, £1,000 in pledges were offered by members of the public during a public meeting to help move the project forward.

The plans include 'rescuing' the derelict building and turning it into an arts and crafts centre, museum and tourist information point.

The building is owned privately and the society hopes to buy it.

ACP Architects in Wolverhampton, have been appointed to prepare a feasibility proposal for refurbishment and conversion of the building.

Mr Woodman said: "Approval in principal has already been obtained from Heritage Lottery Fund for a grant but much work remains to find additional money to support the plans. These works are overdue and essential for the long term survival of the station.

"All present at the recent public meeting voted in favour of us continuing our efforts."

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