Wymondham Railway Station (Main Building) and North Platform

Overview

Heritage Category:
Listed Building
Grade:
II
List Entry Number:
1208540
Date first listed:
14-Jul-1972
Date of most recent amendment:
13-Jan-2021
Statutory Address:
Station Bistro, Station Approach, Wymondham, Norfolk, NR18 0JZ
Statutory Address:
Wymondham Station, Station Approach, Wymondham, Norfolk, NR18 0JZ

Map

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Location

Statutory Address:
Station Bistro, Station Approach, Wymondham, Norfolk, NR18 0JZ
Statutory Address:
Wymondham Station, Station Approach, Wymondham, Norfolk, NR18 0JZ

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County:
Norfolk
District:
South Norfolk (District Authority)
Parish:
Wymondham
National Grid Reference:
TG1142000963

Summary

Railway station, built 1844-1845 for the Norwich and Brandon Railway Company (later the Norfolk Railway), including the addition of a station master's house and station master's office in the later C19 for the Great Eastern Railway Company. In 1988-1989 the original station building and station master's office were converted into a restaurant and showroom, now (2020) wholly a restaurant, while the station master's house became a private dwelling.

Reasons for Designation

The main station building at Wymondham Railway Station, built in 1844-1845 for the Norwich and Brandon Railway Company (later the Norfolk Railway), including the station master's house and station master's office added in the later C19 for the Great Eastern Railway Company, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* its eclectic design successfully combines neoclassical detailing with the Norfolk vernacular tradition of knapped flint and diaper pattern brickwork to create a building of high aesthetic quality; * the use of labour-intensive building materials to a high standard demonstrates high-quality craftsmanship and the prestige that the Norwich and Brandon Railway Company afforded this rural station; * for the survival of the majority of the original plan form, which remains clearly legible despite minor alterations in the late C20.

Historic interest:

* as an early example of a station building built by a minor railway company during the heroic age of railway expansion;

* the addition of a station master’s house and station master’s office in the later C19 illustrates its historic development from a small station by an early railway company into a larger station developed by the amalgamated Great Eastern Railway Company;

* as a station on the Norwich and Brandon Railway (later the Norfolk Railway), whose connection with the Eastern Counties Railway to provide a through route from Yarmouth and Norwich to London, was a pivotal moment in the heroic age of railway building in England;

* as a station serving a line engineered by Robert Stephenson (1803-1859) and George Parker Bidder (1806-1878), two eminent civil engineers who played a significant role in the development of the railway network throughout England.

Group value:

* it has strong group value with an adjacent ensemble of railway structures, including a contemporary goods shed and terrace of railway workers' cottages (both listed Grade II) along with a signal box built in 1877 (listed Grade II). A K6 telephone kiosk (listed Grade II) standing immediately in front of the station adds further to this interest.

History

Wymondham Station opened on 30 July 1845 as one of six principal stations built by the Norfolk Railway (formerly the Norwich and Brandon Railway) on its line from Norwich to Brandon. From Brandon an onward connection to London was provided by a further new line built by the Eastern Counties Railway. A previous scheme to link Norwich and London was put forward by the engineers Robert Stephenson (1803-1859) and George Parker Bidder (1806-1878) in 1842, proposing a route via Wymondham, Brandon and Huntingdon to Bilsworth in Northamptonshire from where the London and Birmingham Railway (L&BR) would provide a connection to the capital. However, after the Northampton and Peterborough Railway (promoted by the L&BR) received Royal Assent on 4 July 1843 for a new line from Bilsworth to Northampton and Peterborough, the promoters of the Norwich to Bilsworth railway had to reconsider their options. Concerned about opposition from other railway companies, they relented to take their line no further than Brandon in Suffolk, from where a new connection to London could be provided. Negotiations subsequently took place with the two companies who could facilitate this, with the Eastern Counties Railway (ECR) proposing a line from Brandon to Colchester via Thetford and Bury St Edmunds, while the Northern and Eastern Railway (N&ER) suggested a route via Ely, Cambridge and Newport to join their line at Bishop's Stortford.

The Prospectus of the Norwich and Brandon Railway (N&BR) was published early in 1843, with Stephenson and Bidder named as chief engineers. The necessary capital of £380,000, divided into 19,000 shares at £20 each, was raised by the following November, with notice of an application to Parliament being given in the same month. On 2 December, at a county meeting in Norwich, attended by the principal landowners, agriculturalists and merchants of the district, resolutions were passed unanimously approving the project. However, prior to the meeting, with an agreement being reached on 25 October whereby the entire N&ER network would be leased and managed by the ECR for 999 years, doubts were raised as to whether the proposed connection at Brandon would be built. The attendees were placated by the Chairman of Directors of the ECR who confirmed that either the N&ER or the ECR line would be extended to Brandon.

The Norwich and Brandon Railway Bill received Royal Assent on 10 May 1844, while a further Act passed on 4 June gave the ECR permission to extend their line from Newport, to where they had extended the line from Bishop’s Stortford since the start of the year, to Brandon via Cambridge and Ely. In August the major shareholders of the N&BR held several meetings to consider whether they should consolidate with the Yarmouth and Norwich Railway (which had opened on 1 May 1844) to establish a direct service from the Norfolk coast to London. Following approval in September, the two companies were merged by an Act passed on 30 June 1845, with the title Norfolk Railway being assumed by the combined undertaking.

Work on the Norwich and Brandon Railway commenced in a field near Wymondham on 17 May 1844, just seven days after receiving Royal Assent. An eloquent account of its development, along with those involved, was recorded in a special supplement to the Norfolk Chronicle published on 2 August 1845. Along with reaffirming Stephenson and Bidder as the chief engineers, it states that Mr Bartlett (Norwich to Attleborough) and Mr Roth (Attleborough to Bandon), assisted by Mr Murphy, were the resident engineers, while Messrs Grissell and Peto were the main building contractors. Mr Merrit was the general contractor for the building of the line, bridges and other similar structures, while Mr Golding (Norwich to Spink’s Lane), Mr Greenhill (Spink’s Lane to Eccles) and Mr Warton (Eccles to Brandon) were his superintendents. Although Mr Charles Thomas Lucas (1820-1895) is named as the general superintendent for the building of all the stations and crossing lodges, the supplement does not record the names of any architects who might have designed these structures. Along with Wymondham, principal stations were also built at Norwich, Trowse (closed 1939, re-opened and closed 1986), Attleborough, Thetford and Brandon. Five intermediate stations were constructed at Hethersett (closed 1966), Spink’s Lane (closed November 1845), Spooner Row, Eccles Road and Harling Road.

Even though the Norwich and Brandon Railway was scheduled to open in July 1845, Messrs Grissell and Peto, the contractors of the line from Newport to Brandon, were not scheduled to complete the Cambridge to Brandon section until November 1845, and that from Newport to Cambridge until July 1846. However, a concerted effort from all those involved resulted in the line from Norwich to London opening throughout on 30 July 1845. Norwich was initially served by Trowse Station pending the completion of a swing bridge across the River Wensum. Following the bridge’s ceremonial opening on 11 December, through services from Norwich Thorpe Station to Shoreditch Station (later renamed Bishopsgate) commenced four days later.

At the time of opening Wymondham Station consisted of a single-storey station building, aligned north-east to south-west, on the north side of the railway (platform 1) and a platform shelter on the south side (platform 2). A contemporary goods shed (listed Grade II) and terrace of three railway workers' cottages (listed Grade II) completed the complex. The station's subsequent development is depicted on successive Ordnance Survey 25 inch maps, with the first edition map of 1882 showing extensions at the north-east and south-west ends of the main station building, now identified as a station master's house and station master's office respectively, along with the addition of a footbridge (not of special interest).

By the time the second edition map was published in 1906, the station building on platform 1 had been equipped with a wall-bracketed platform canopy while the original platform shelter on platform 2 had been replaced with a larger waiting room (not of special interest), again with a wall-bracketed platform canopy, along with a second structure standing to its immediate south-west. A photograph taken in 1910 shows this to be a wooden newspaper kiosk protected by a timber platform canopy. In the same photograph the footbridge is depicted as having a canopy.

Although successive OS maps depict little change to the station's footprint, a photograph taken in the 1950s shows that the newspaper kiosk on platform 2 had been replaced with a new wooden kiosk and the two separate platform canopies had been replaced with a single canopy (not of special interest).

On 6 March 1967, although remaining open for passengers, the station was de-staffed and the buildings closed. By 1970, as shown on the fifth edition OS map, the original station building had become a ‘works’, although the exact nature of the industrial activity is not known.

In 1988-1989, David Turner, a local businessman and railway enthusiast, leased the station from British Rail and converted the former buffet into the 'Brief Encounter Refreshment Room and Restaurant' and the adjoining waiting room into a piano showroom. The former waiting room (not of special interest) on platform 2 was sub-let to a local building company before becoming a beauty salon.

Following David Turner’s retirement in 2011, the catering business continued under a new lessee as the 'Station Bistro', while the former waiting room (not of special interest) on platform 2 has now (2020) become a pet grooming salon.

In 2016 the footbridge (not of special interest) was refurbished by Dura Composites in partnership with Abellio Greater Anglia. This included the replacement of all the timberwork forming the deck and staircases with Fibre Reinforced Plastic (FRP), with additional handrails also being fitted to the staircases.

Details

Railway station, built 1844-1845 for the Norwich and Brandon Railway Company (later the Norfolk Railway), including the addition of a station master's house and station master's office in the later C19 for the Great Eastern Railway Company. In 1988-1989 the original station building and station master's office were converted into a restaurant and showroom, now (2020) wholly a restaurant, while the station master's house became a private dwelling.

The late-C19 footbridge along with the station structures on platform 2, including the late-C19/early-C20 waiting room and the later-C20 platform canopy and screen wall, are not of special interest. MATERIALS: the main station building and its additions are of knapped flint with red and blue brick dressings, brick stacks and slate roofs. PLAN: the 1844-1845 station building, which stands on the north side of the tracks on platform 1, is rectangular-on-plan, aligned north-east to south-west, with a station master's house and station master's office of later-C19 date at its north-east and south-west ends respectively. EXTERIOR: the principal elevation of the main station building, which faces north-west across a small forecourt, is 11-bays long in a 3:5:3-bay arrangement. It has a knapped flint façade with blue-brick diapering in a diamond pattern while red brick is used for the rusticated Gibbs-type window and door surrounds, the blocking course and the stone-coped parapet. The later-C19 station master's house and station master's office at the north-east and south-west ends respectively are both of two-bays with an almost identical architectural treatment apart from the diamond-shaped diapering to the station master's house which is of red brick. All windows, unless otherwise stated, are timber-framed horned sashes.

The central five-bay range, which has a slightly higher ridge line with two ridge stacks, projects with the middle three bays projecting further beneath a triangular-shaped gable to form a centrepiece. It has a tall, six-over-six sash at the centre flanked by slightly smaller and narrower two-over-two sashes. These are in turn flanked by entrance bays with half-glazed double doors accessed by stone steps with moulded wooden handrails with moulded newel posts with ball finials. The flanking three-bay ranges have four-over-four sashes to each bay except for the left-hand end bay which has a half-glazed wooden door. Within the gable there is a pointed relieving arch with its tympanum containing a late-C20 stone plaque which reads: HISTORIC RAILWAY STATION / WYMONDHAM / RESTORED BY / DAVID A AINGER-TURNER / AND UNVEILED BY / ACTOR BILL PERTWEE / FOR THE ENJOYMENT OF ALL / ON THE 8 OCTOBER 1989. The later-C19 station master's house at the left-hand (north-east) end, which rises above the eaves line of the adjoining three-bay range, is of two bays with a tall, narrow, two-over-two sash to the left-hand ground-floor bay and a four-over-four sash to the right-hand first-floor bay. At the right-hand (south-west) end the later-C19 station master's office is also of two bays with four-over-four sashes to each bay. The platform elevation of the original station building, which has an identical architectural treatment to that displayed by the principal façade, is 13-bays long, but this time arranged in 5:5:3-bays. The five-bay centre range has a large, four-over-four sash flanked on each side by narrower, two-over-two sashes and half-glazed double doors. The five-bay range to its left-hand (south-west) side has four-over-four sashes to all but the fourth bay which has a half-glazed wooden door, while the three-bay range to the right-hand (north-east) side has four-over-four sashes to each bay. All but the two left-hand bays of this 13-bay range are spanned by a platform canopy supported by iron wall brackets with spandrels with pierced decorative scrollwork. The canopy itself has a scalloped valance, wood boarded soffit and a bituminous felt roof.

The station master’s office at the south-east end, which has a lower ridge line than the adjoining five-bay range, is of three bays with an identical treatment to that of the original station building. Its diapering, however, is restricted to a single row of half-diamonds beneath the cills of its two four-over-four horned sashes. At its left-hand end there is a half-glazed wooden door beneath a flat wooden hood with a scalloped valance. At the north-east end, the adjoining station master's house has a late-C20 rendered façade with a late-C20 horned sash to the ground floor and a blind first floor.

INTERIOR: the interior of the original station building was refurbished as a railway-themed restaurant in 1988 and the majority of its fixtures and fittings, including the seating, luggage racks and servery, are of a late-C20/early-C21 date. The wide floorboards are probably original, along with one cast-iron fireplace, while a second fireplace is a 1920s or 1930s replacement in an Art Deco style.

Legacy

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
386090
Legacy System:
LBS

Sources

Books and journals
Pertwee, B, The Station Now Standing: Britain's Colourful Railway Stations, (1991), 44-7
Other
Illustrated London News, 2 August 1845, pp73, 76-77
Norfolk Chronicle, 2 August 1845
Norfolk Chronicle, 26 July 1845, pp5-6

Legal

This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

Images of England

Images of England was a photographic record of every listed building in England, created as a snap shot of listed buildings at the turn of the millennium. These photographs of the exterior of listed buildings were taken by volunteers between 1999 and 2008. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Date: 19 Jul 2004
Reference: IOE01/12725/23
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr Gary Hacon. Source Historic England Archive
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