On Friday I stepped back in time visiting a pre-Beeching era railway station. My friend, Ann, and I were on our way to spend a weekend visiting Pugin-related buildings in East Staffordshire, staying at a National Trust cottage in the Manifold Valley (Peak District) and, hopefully, fitting in a country walk in the valley. More about these in future posts; but our first destination of the weekend was the Landmark Trust’s Alton Station which Ann arranged for us to visit on this changeover day.
First view of Alton Station was in sunshine, after the heavy rain and winds of the morning’s drive
Alton is most famous for Alton Towers the well-known theme park but there is lots more to visit at Alton as I was to find out. The theme park occupies only part of the grounds of the Alton Towers estate owned and developed by the Earls of Shrewsbury over the centuries. The Station was built in 1849 in an Italianate style as part of the Churnet Valley branch line for the North Staffordshire Railway (NSR). It finally closed in 1965.
Former Ticket Office and Waiting Room
At the station we were greeted by the three housekeepers who were busy cleaning and polishing and ‘hoovering’ and making beds ready for the arrival of the next guests that afternoon and the gardener who was raking the gravel. We were welcomed with cups of tea and they chatted as they worked, answering our questions and making comparisons with the past representation of the station when only the Station Master’s House provided accommodation. A few years ago the ticket office and waiting rooms were renovated and now provide the kitchen, a further bedroom and large dining room. The two buildings are not linked under cover, though!
The former Ladies Waiting Room is now the Kitchen
Close-up of the framed photograph of the station in its heyday
Alton Station and disused railway track
Original Landmark was The Station Master’s House (foreground)
This year The Landmark Trust has been celebrating its 50th anniversary. As well as special events at headquaters and throughout the country they have published a beautiful history book and their work has been featured in a 6-part Channel 4 programme on TV.
No trains today, Ann. You’ll have a long wait!