Lynn’s newly-refurbished rail station was officially reopened on Tuesday by rail enthusiast and former government minister Michael Portillo after a 1950s-style makeover.
The refurbishments began last spring and will transport passengers back to the 1950s thanks to the Great Eastern Railway-inspired cast iron benches, vintage lanterns and a new paint job.
Mr Portillo, who presents the highly-rated television series Great British Railway Journeys exploring the historical influence of the railway on Britain, first visiting Lynn’s station three years ago.
He said: “I believe that people respond very significantly to magnificent architecture and Lynn’s station has been refurbished in a spectacular manner.
“Standing in the ticket hall, the building has been stripped away and restored to the previous design. The colours have been carefully chosen, with the gold representing that this is a royal station, and the signage adds a certain nostalgia.”
Unveiling a plaque inside the station, he said: “I want to thank our project manager who had a real vision and has produced something very special. My commiserations to First Capital Connect for losing this magnificent station.”
David Statham, managing director of First Capital Connect, said: “The new look is a fantastic and welcome addition to the station. It started as a simple rewiring job but the team recognised that they could do so much more.”
The station carries a grade II heritage status and the project team have been working very closely with the Fen Line Users’ Association to achieve a look that harks back to the Victorian era.
Mr Statham added: “For me, a lot of what makes this project feel special is the involvement of the local community, and that has made this one of the best heritage projects in the UK.”
He welcomed rail enthusiast Richard Brown, who restored the former royal station at Wolferton where he lives, and has helped with the bench designs, paintwork and lighting at Lynn station.
Local historian and member of the King’s Lynn Civic Society, Paul Richards, said: “When you bring a building back to life, it gives people a lift to see the fantastic architecture used to show off the history and heritage of the town. This is an amazing investment in the town and I would say it is money well spent.”
The restoration has paved the way for further refurbishment, including work on Portland Street, to make the town more inviting for visitors and to encourage trade.
West Norfolk Council leader, Cllr Nick Daubney, said: “The rail link is so vital to the town’s prosperity and the station brings trade and tourism into the heart of Lynn. They could have just given it a lick of paint, but they really have gone that extra mile to give the station that heritage style. It’s a big statement for the town.”
West Norfolk Mayor Barry Ayres added: “This refurbishment reflects Lynn’s long history and I think it’s absolutely fantastic for those who commute from dreary stations during the winter.
“From a trade and tourism point of view it is absolutely fantastic and with further plans to update Portland Street, the town will be much more welcoming for visitors.”