Plea to Beamish to save Hexham railway station's heritage assets

HERITAGE guardians hope two endangered examples of a town’s heritage can be saved and preserved – as museum pieces.

HERITAGE guardians hope two endangered examples of a town’s heritage can be saved and preserved – as museum pieces.

Hexham Civic Society is battling to rescue an old stable building and signalman’s bothy from demolition under proposals to convert the goods yard at Hexham railway station into a modern £8m retail site.

The plans, agreed by county planners last week, would involve the removal of the “non-designated heritage assets”.

But HCS is now to ask Beamish Open Air Museum in north west Durham to salvage the buildings.

Society chairman Roger Higgins, said yesterday: “Our preference would have been to see the stable building and the signalman’s bothy remain in situ.

“They lose a lot of their significance when they are no longer in the station yard. But rather than lose the buildings all together, we feel Beamish would be a good home for them.”

HCS trustee Pat Caris has made an initial inquiry to Beamish but with museum curator Jim Rees on holiday no reply has yet been received.

She said: “I am waiting to hear from Mr Rees but we hope that Beamish Museum will give us a favourable response.

“We have been in touch with them before on other buildings.

“It would have been really nice to see the Hexham Station buildings used within the yard itself, but it seems that won’t happen now.

“So it would be very good to see them get a good home at Beamish.

“Hexham railway station is one of the rarest in the country and we’re quite sure that the stables could be converted into some sort of public-use building.

“But if Beamish would agree to take them to their site, then it would be a way of saving them.”

Rokeby Developments’ ambitious plans for the derelict conservation area goods yard site alongside the Grade II-listed station will bring major players such as Homebase to Hexham. Planners said the proposals – opposed by the Civic Society and Hexham Town Council – will deliver much-needed office/workshop space.

They admit it would be “regrettable” to have to demolish the non-designated heritage assets but say that none of the buildings make any significant contribution to the character and appearance of the Hexham Conservation Area.

Retaining the stables building, they say, would make the redevelopment plans “financially unviable”.

The Civic Society has criticised the proposed design of the retail site as “retro-fitted, generic and poorly-designed”.

But Rokeby have defended the scheme as “well-received” and say they have taken the concerns of the heritage lobby into account in producing their final plan.

 

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