Council gives rail station project a major funding boost

Doug Phillips, chairman of the Greater Morpeth Development Trust, with Natasha Wilding, Northern Rail head of trains and stations (North East) and leader of Northumberland County Council, Grant Davey, at Morpeth Railway Station. Picture by Trevor Walker.
Doug Phillips, chairman of the Greater Morpeth Development Trust, with Natasha Wilding, Northern Rail head of trains and stations (North East) and leader of Northumberland County Council, Grant Davey, at Morpeth Railway Station. Picture by Trevor Walker.

Northumberland County Council has pledged support and financial backing for an ambitious scheme to give Morpeth Railway Station a major face-lift.

It has agreed to provide a substantial six-figure sum to bridge the funding gap and ensure the scheme goes ahead, which will see the station buildings re-developed to provide modern-day facilities for rail passengers.

The £1.7million project is being led and managed by the Greater Morpeth Development Trust (GMDT).

The plan is to restore the historic features of the station’s grade II-listed buildings and create a bistro café, toilet facilities and improved ticket office services. Empty space will be converted into offices for up to seven small businesses.

GMDT chairman Doug Phillips said: “The station is a beautiful building and it is our intention to conserve its historic fabric, while incorporating modern facilities into it.

“We have been working on this project for a number of years and I am thrilled that we now have the majority of the funding in place.

“Over the coming weeks, we will be setting up a development team to see the project through to completion.”

Work to the 167-year-old station is expected to start next spring.

Funding for the project has also been secured from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Railway Heritage Trust, train operators Northern and Network Rail.

County council leader Grant Davey said: “As part of our market towns initiative, the council is investing in a range of properties across the county to rejuvenate town centres and provide a first class services to our residents.

“This is an excellent regeneration scheme, which will transform the passenger experience while creating an impressive gateway to the town. We are pleased to be able to support GMDT in its work.”

As for other parts of the county, the authority is pressing ahead with ambitious plans to re-introduce a rail passenger service between Ashington, Blyth and Tyneside.

The scheme took a major step forward recently when an independent study to establish what is required to deliver the project and the costs involved concluded that it was feasible.