PRESS RELEASE: Dad's Army station saved from bulldozers
30th July 2020
A delightful country station dating from the golden decade of railway building and used in the filming of Dad’s Army has received a reprieve from imminent demolition.
A High Court order issued today quashed the decision by Breckland District Council to allow the demolition of the 1845 station building at Brandon on the Cambridge to Norwich line. This follows judicial review proceedings launched by SAVE Britain’s Heritage seeking the quashing of the Council’s decision.
The Council had issued a lawful development certificate which said that Greater Anglia could construct a new car park under the railway permitted development rights. The Council accepted that they had failed to apply the legal test for what was railway land and overlooked SAVE’s representations.
In its response to the legal challenge the Council consented to the quashing of the certificate. Greater Anglia did not resist the Court order.
SAVE will now work with the Suffolk Building Preservation Trust on new plans for repairing this historic station and bringing it back to use. A listing application has also been submitted to Historic England - supported by SAVE - and we are expecting a recommendation imminently.
SAVE offers thanks to its lawyers Susan Ring of Harrison Grant and Richard Harwood QC of 39 Essex Chambers for advice and action which has saved the station from demolition.
Marcus Binney, executive president of SAVE Britain’s Heritage said: “This shows that determination, persistence and resourcefulness can bring back historic buildings on death row. We have already commissioned plans by the architect Doug Reid, obtained initial costs from builders, and will now be working with the Suffolk Building Preservation Trust on raising finance. Many local people objected passionately to the demolition proposal, and some thought it was a lost cause. Now we have an opportunity for it to live again after standing boarded up for 16 years.”
Henrietta Billings, director of SAVE Britain's Heritage said: "We are delighted we were able to successfully challenge this permission through legal channels - which otherwise would have sailed through. It shows that close scrutiny of planning decisions really can pay off. We are hugely grateful once again to Richard Harwood QC and Susan Ring for their swift and decisive action."
SAVE has campaigned since late 2019 to seek a reprieve for this historic station and propose a practical way of reusing it. However, the future of the historic station building looked set to be sealed following the decision by Breckland Council in May 2020 to approve Greater Anglia’s demolition plans.
Opened in 1845, Brandon served as the terminus station connecting two of Norfolk’s most historic railway lines: the Norfolk Railway (formerly the Norwich & Brandon) and the Eastern Counties Railway. The Norfolk Railway line was built by the early railway pioneers Robert Stephenson and Sir Samuel Morton Peto.
The Suffolk town of Brandon is famous for beautiful flints used in the Middle Ages on many of the county’s magnificent medieval churches. Brandon Station is a fine example of the revival of flint work.
Whilst Brandon flint was used both for the station and much of the town itself, during the Second World War, and the town became the leading supplier of military gunflint for the British Army. The station also served as the main station for the American Airforce at nearby RAF Lakenheath and AAF Mildenhall, with large sidings put in known as the American Sidings.
In September 1945 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth accompanied by the Duke of Gloucester and the Commander-in-Chief of the Home Forces, General Alan Brooke, alighted at Brandon platform as part of a visit to East Anglia to inspect military installations, a moment captured in previously unseen newsreel images unearthed by local historian Darren Norton of www.brandonatwar.co.uk.
Brandon also featured in a 1968 episode of the popular British comedy Dad's Army, and remains a tourist attraction for location tours run by the nearby Dads Army Museum in Thetford.
Although the station is still a well used stop on the main line from Cambridge and Norwich, the station offices were closed in 1978 and up until September 2004 were leased to a building company. They are now empty and boarded up.
1. For more information contact Henrietta Billings, director of SAVE Britain's Heritage – firstname.lastname@example.org / 07388 181 181
2. SAVE Britain's Heritage is a strong, independent voice in conservation that has been fighting for threatened historic buildings and sustainable reuses since 1975. We stand apart from other organisations by bringing together architects, engineers, planners and investors to offer viable alternative proposals. Where necessary, and with expert advice, we take legal action to prevent major and needless losses.