Interesting photographs have emerged that a ruined Derbyshire train station, which is one of the oldest in the world, used to look when it was open.

Plans to renovate Derbyshire’s Wingfield station – one of the UK’s most at risk buildings – are gathering pace, but the race is also underway to gather as much information as possible on photographs and writing of the building.

The Derbyshire Historic Buildings Trust, with an initial grant from the National Lottery, resumed the renovation of the 1839-1840 building after having compulsorily purchased it from the Amber Valley Borough Council.

The completed project will include interpretive panels telling the story of the station, near Alfreton, which is the only survivor of the creations of architect Francis Thompson and therefore the first station in the United Kingdom and in the world.

We already know a lot about the historic site and earlier this year the South Wingfield local history group organized an exhibit as part of the building restoration campaign and to draw attention to the work of the group.

It is the group of history which claims to have broken “the saturation of almost 40 years” of the attempts to restore the building, by reminding English Heritage (now Historic England) of their own report entitled Midland Main Line Statement of History and Significance Consultation version / August 2014, prepared by Alan Baxter Associates.

What the station looked like at its peak
(Image: Midland Railway Study Center, Derby)

Group President Philip Smith said: “This report clearly recognized the historic and architectural value of the building and its need for immediate restoration. This resulted in the rapid re-listing of buildings from grade II to grade II * – which triggered the participation of Amber Valley Borough Council and led to the subsequent mandatory purchase order. “

Wingfield station was built as part of the North Midland Railway which ran from Derby to Chesterfield and onwards to Rotherham and Leeds.

It was originally inspected by railroad pioneer George Stephenson in 1835 and Parliament approved the construction of the line by passing legislation the following year – 1836.

But it was George’s son Robert who completed the line in 1840 and was responsible for hiring Francis Thompson to design the 24 stations planned for the Derby line in Leeds.

Wingfield station as it stands today before restoration
(Image: Derby Telegraph)

Thompson also designed the Derby’s Midland Hotel, as well as the world’s first railway complex in the city, which included the station, attached to a large three-bay glazed train shed, as well as workers’ houses and a rotunda and a locomotive workshop.

Consistent with the progression of the North Midland Railway through predominantly rural areas of Derby, the stations were designed as a series of picturesque buildings to reflect their location and included pavilions and wardens’ pavilions.

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Wingfield is the only station to have survived and was curiously built in the style of a Tuscan villa – particularly popular with all the wealthy who had made the Grand Tour in Europe and had seen it for themselves.

It originally consisted of the station building and the train station house to the south and a small building was added to the north of the station, probably shortly after its original construction, to be used for the plots.

The North Midland Railway opened its line from Derby to Rotherham (Masborough) and Leeds in 1840. At Derby it was connected to the Birmingham and Derby Junction Railway and the Midlands Counties Railway, but in 1844 the three companies merged to form the Midland Railway.

Views prior to the 20th century
(Image: Miscellaneous)

The companies did not produce the expected profits, partly because of the fierce competition between them and it became the first large-scale railway merger.

The station was closed in 1967 and became private property. But concerns about its condition over the next 50 years led the Amber Valley borough council to step in, buy it, and turn it over to DHBT.

First drawing of Wingfield Station which appeared for the first time in the Leeds Intelligencer in 1840 by Samuel Russell. Used by Bench Architects for their work with Amber Valley Borough Council
(Image: Midland Railway Study Center, Derby)

In 2012, the Victorian Society described the station as a “mutilated beauty that deserves better” and one of the ten most important buildings at risk in the country.

The Derbyshire Historic Buildings Trust (DHBT) received a first grant of £ 137,000 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to start the restoration project, which will save the building for future commercial and community use.

The detailed proposals are then reviewed by the National Lottery Heritage Fund in the second round, where a final decision is made on the total funding amount of £ 592,600.

Famous architect Derby Derek Latham is president of DHBT which has restored approximately 90 buildings in the county before.

Floor plan of the main building of Wingfield station
(Image: Buxton Bench Architects.)

He said: “This building has been on the list of places to restore for a long time and the previous owner has shown no signs of wanting to take care of the place. In fact, it took three days to empty the building when he was finally released.

“First, we carry out a survey on the health and safety of the building, then we make sure that it is weatherproof because currently the building lets the rain pass.

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“Then we will start to involve working groups in the spring to clean up part of the area around the building.

“After that, we will consider a planning request and request the second phase of the lottery funding.

One of the old chimneys inside the building
(Image: Derby Telegraph)

“It is a magnificent building built in the style of an Italian villa similar to a place you would see traveling in Tuscany. There was a passion for this style of architecture at the time of its construction. “

During the restoration of buildings of national importance, DHBT will offer a multitude of activities, such as living history events detailing the history of the station and the North Midland railway line, training grants young people with traditional skills and open days for the public and local community.

The trust will also recruit volunteers to help with the project, as well as collecting memories and experiences from those who previously worked or who had families who worked at the station or on the local railway.

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