A new future has been confirmed for a troubled West Norfolk beauty spot after its sale to a neighbouring woodland owner and businessman.
Bawsey Pits has been sold by minerals firm Sibelco to Stephen Bacon.
He said the transaction ensured the site would pass into the hands of someone passionate about conservation and sustainability.
Mr Bacon said: “My father, grandfather and great grandfather have all shared my passion and have all lived and worked their lives in Bawsey, it’s our family home and our legacy to the next generation of my family.
“My great-grandfather, Jonny Bacon, was stationmaster of the award-winning Bawsey railway station which was voted Best Kept Station not once but twice near the end of his career with stiff competition from stations across the entire country.
“This former railway station forms part of the land I am taking on and has been a driving force of passion for me.”
Mr Bacon has expressed the wish to work with railway enthusiasts to restore some life into the old station yard and recreate a bygone age.
He hopes people will be able to dine in luxurious stationary carriages while soaking up the ambience of a beautiful time in history and enjoying the views.
“It’s such a wonderful opportunity to recreate a moment that we can share with loved ones, subject to planning consent of course, and I hope that it will give generations of pleasure to us all,” he said.
For decades much of the site has been a country park but its reputation had become marred by antisocial behaviour and tragedy.
In 2013 a teenager and a man drowned on the same day when ‘no swimming’ notices were ignored.
A public consultation that followed attracted more than 600 responses and revealed a clear desire for the park to be given a new lease of life through modest development.
A deal with businessman Kevin Salter fell through earlier this year but now Mr Bacon has signed on the dotted line.
He said: “I am absolutely passionate about making this park the most beautiful one you can imagine.
“I need it to be financially self-sufficient so that it is sustainable for generations to come but I wish it to become a beautiful park once more, measuring its success by the pleasure it gives people of all ages.”
Ward member and deputy leader of the West Norfolk, Council, Alistair Beales, said: “I welcome Mr Bacon’s passion for Bawsey Pits and his commitment to enhance the beauty and sustainability of the park for all ages to enjoy and I look forward to working with him.”
Sibelco’s Gary Stringer said: “It’s very important to us as a firm that we leave a decent legacy wherever we have operated and I hope Bawsey is about to become a terrific asset for the King’s Lynn area and West Norfolk as a whole.
“I wish Stephen every success and look forward to coming back to see how he is progressing.”
“I also thank all those who took part in the consultation process and gave us such a clear idea for the way forward.
“It’s them who secured Bawsey’s future.”