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Appeal for help to restore former Middleton railway station into community asset

Restoration enthusiasts are appealing for help to save a former railway station they fear could be “lost forever”.

The Middleton Towers Restoration Group is hoping local businesses and any interested members of the public will come forward to raise the money needed to kick-start work on a project to turn the redundant Middleton Towers rail ticket office and platform access room into an asset for the community – potentially a cafe and heritage museum which would acknowledge the rail line’s history.

The station was the first stop on the former rail line between King’s Lynn and Dereham which closed to passengers in 1968 after more than 120 years of use.

Middleton station
Middleton station

The ticket office and platform is part of a transformation vision of Lynn man Alex Brammer, who founded the Middleton Towers Restoration Group in 2021.

Alex said it has taken two-and-a-half years to get to the point where the group has a contract offer from Network Rail, which owns the site, to move ahead with the project.

However, the start of work is dependent on money being raised to cover scaffolding and initial insurance costs.

Middleton station
Middleton station

If that money can be found, it would in turn unlock grant help for the project from the Railway Heritage Trust.

In taking to social media for help, Alex said: “Now we are appealing to businesses and the general public for support to raise the funds needed to begin work on the station, which is in a terrible state of decay and will be lost forever without intervention.”

The group is looking at costs of around £3,600 a year for public liability insurance and £8,000 for scaffolding and roof protection work although more quotes are being explored.

Middleton station
Middleton station

“We are appealing to the public as well as private enterprises for sponsorship of our project,” the post explains.

Twenty-six-year-old Alex is spearheading the project with Alister Lingard, who also lives in West Norfolk, the group’s head of restoration.

Alex, who works as an administrator with NHS Continuing Healthcare, said he became interested in renovating the former station ticket office after seeing it on some drone footage.

As an enthusiast of old railways and buildings, Alex said his aim is to see the building “fit for purpose” for the community in some way in a project which could cost around £100,000.

The first step is to raise money to enable work to commence on the ticket office roof and canopy.

Alex said the roof needs to be taken off and replaced with a temporary cover until more money becomes available – then the rest of the project can take shape.

“We need to fix it up as the first step and the second step will be to repurpose the building,” said Alex.

He explained although the aim is potentially to create a cafe, this might not be possible once work starts depending on what they find but the idea is for a tea room manned by volunteers.

In order to find the funds to get the project underway an online Crowdfunding page has been launched with the hope of raising £10,000 and any donations for the project can be made at www.middletontowers.org.uk

In explaining the group’s vision, the Crowdfunding page says the group is in discussion with Network Rail to obtain permission to renovate its portion of the site and that “consensus amongst our members is that under our plans, the site would serve as a public tea room and as a museum for the former King’s Lynn to Dereham railway.”

It also explains the group is made up of more than 700 railway enthusiasts, engineers and tradespeople who want to see “our community effort come into fruition”.

“After over two years of research, phone calls, emails and negotiations, we are edging very close to the commencement of work on our project,” the page says.

Anyone able to help or businesses interested in sponsorship can also email Alex at mtrg.norfolk@gmail.com

Some of the track at the village station has been retained and is still used Monday to Friday for freight transporting silica sand from the Leziate quarry of Sibelco UK Ltd.

Work on the station restoration would be carried out at weekends.

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