PRESS RELEASE: Listing saves historic railway station from demolition
1st September 2020
SAVE Britain's Heritage has just heard that a historic country station in Suffolk at Brandon has been designated as a grade II listed buildingafter a 14-year battle by local people. When the battle seemed lost and the local council had given Greater Anglia the go-ahead for demolition in May 2020, SAVE initiated and won a High Court action which resulted in a quashing order of the permitted development.
SAVE and the Suffolk Building Preservation Trust secured the listing on the basis that the little station, built of the flints which have been produced near Brandon for over 4,000 years, is a landmark of the golden age of railway building in the 1840s. The Cambridge to Norwich Line it serves was built by some of the greatest figures of the railway age, including the engineer Robert Stephenson and one of the leading railway builders in Victorian England Sir Samuel Morton Peto.
Exciting evidence is emerging that the little station, built in Elizabethan style with barley twist chimneys, may have been designed by one of the greatest sculptors of the age, John Thomas. Thomas rose from the humblest beginnings to win patronage from the Prince Consort, and went on to design Peto's imposing country house at Somerleyton in Suffolk and the estate village where the cottages have a family resemblance to Brandon Station.
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.
Marcus Binney, executive president of SAVE Britain’s Heritage said: “Despite support from the two locals MPs and passionate objections from the people of Brandon approval had been given for demolition. SAVE will now work with the Suffolk Building Preservation Trust on a scheme to restore and convert the station and station master's house as offices and perhaps a cafe. SAVE has commissioned initial plans from the architect Doug Reid. The Historic England listing is a badge of honour for railway architecture. SAVE hopes to work with Network Rail and Greater Anglia to achieve a result of which we can all be proud."
Henrietta Billings, director of SAVE Britain's Heritage said: "The recognition and protection of Brandon station through listing is fantastic news for our railway heritage. The bricks, mortar and beautifully knapped flint of this modest building cradle fascinating stories about the people who built it and capture a pivotal moment in the 19th century development of the railways in Britain. We'd like to thank the hundreds of people who supported the campaign to save the station from demolition and we are delighted to play an important part in securing its new future."
Piers Hart, chair of the Suffolk Building Preservation Trust said: "We are absolutely thrilled with the listing and are determined the 1845 station will become a flagship for the revival of heritage in Brandon."
In their reasons for listing, Historic England state that Brandon Station was listed at grade II for both its architectural and historic interest. They note the building's "quality craftsmanship and materials, which directly relate to the vernacular architectural traditions of the area and Brandon in particular, which is rich in the quarrying and workmanship of knapped flint."
The historic relationship Brandon Station holds as part of the family of four other principal stations on the Norwich to Brandon Line at Trowse, Wymondham, Attleborough, and Thetford, was also noted as of significance.
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.
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.
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 Ben Oakley, conservation officer at SAVE Britain's Heritage – firstname.lastname@example.org / 07388 181 181 or Piers Hart, chair of the Suffolk Building Preservation Trust on 01842 890 212.
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.
3. See here for details on our current campaigns.