Major windfall for Morpeth station plans

Greater Morpeth Development Trust chairman, Doug Phillips, and chief executive, David Lodge, at Morpeth Railway Station.
Greater Morpeth Development Trust chairman, Doug Phillips, and chief executive, David Lodge, at Morpeth Railway Station.

Ambitious plans to return Morpeth’s railway station to its former glory have this week received a funding boost of almost £800,000.

Officials from Greater Morpeth Development Trust (GMDT) reacted with delight after securing the National Lottery funding to help towards the cost of their improvement plan for one of the landmark stations on the East Coast line.

For nearly four years, GMDT has been putting together the plan to restore the station’s grade II-listed Victorian buildings as well as converting empty space into offices for up to seven small businesses.

The total cost of the work has been calculated at £1.6million and the award of £797,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) will go a long away to ensuring the project can now go ahead.

The Trust has also already secured £250,000 from the Railway Heritage Trust and is currently engaged in talks with other potential funders, including Northumberland County Council, Network Rail and Northern Rail/Arriva, to complete the package.

“The HLF award is a huge step forward towards delivering our proposals for Morpeth Railway Station,” said GMDT chief executive David Lodge.

“We are confident we will be in position to start work on the site by the end of the year.”

Work to restore the station, which could be completed by next summer, will include restoring the station building – designed by architect Benjamin Green and opened in 1848 – and preserving many of its original features such as its portico entrance.

Facilities for rail travellers will also be improved with a new café/bistro and modernised ticket office and toilets.

Space currently unused will also be transformed into modern offices.

With new passenger services already announced to provide more stops at Morpeth, as well as perhaps a reopened Ashintgon, Blyth & Tyne line, the work will give the station a sustainable future as well as securing an iconic railway heritage building.

Doug Phillips, chairman of GMDT, said: “Securing the grant signifies that HLF has bought into our vision to restore Morpeth Railway Station to its former glory as well as giving it a sustainable future, not just for rail travellers, but for local entrepreneurs who can see the value of locating their businesses in such a unique setting.

“There is a shortage of bespoke, modern offices for small businesses in Morpeth and our plans will go some way towards meeting that demand.

“This is going to be another wonderful investment for the future that GMDT has secured for Morpeth.

“Since we were established as a trust 10 years ago, we have already delivered investment of more than £7million to fund exciting plans across a broad spectrum of facilities and activities that have made Morpeth an even better place to live, work and visit.

“The railway station project will take that investment total to around the £9million mark.”