Preserving town’s

Sir Vincent at Rushden Train Station on December 12, 1991.'L-R co-owner Bob Hill, boiler maker Mike Valentine, co-owner Michael Smith, boiler maker Dave Valentine.'For Retro supplement January 2012

Sir Vincent at Rushden Train Station on December 12, 1991.'L-R co-owner Bob Hill, boiler maker Mike Valentine, co-owner Michael Smith, boiler maker Dave Valentine.'For Retro supplement January 2012

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As Rushden Historical Transport Society prepares to celebrate a landmark anniversary this year the Evening Telegraph delved into its archives to uncover photographs from its past.

It was 21 years ago that campaigners discovered they had won their fight to save the town’s historic Victorian railway station from demolition.

To mark the event volunteers at the station are preparing to hold a special event in March this year which will look back at the society’s Save Our Station campaign.

Society chairman John Sugars said: “We’ll be holding a special event in March and are looking for any memorabilia and photographs people have of that campaign so we can do a big display.

“We’d ask anyone who can help us to please, please get in touch.”

Rushden Station was built by the Midland Railway in 1894 but closed to passengers on June 13, 1959, when regular passengers services were withdrawn by British Rail.

When the line finally closed to all traffic in 1969 the building was sold to the local authorities who leased it to various businesses until in 1984 the transport society obtained the lease.

The society officially opened its museum in the former railway station in September 1985.

But in April 1986 volunteers were given the devastating news that the building would have to be demolished to make way for a new link road from the town centre to the proposed A6.

The volunteers mounted a campaign to save the station and received the backing of the MP for Wellingborough at the time, Peter Fry.

In June 1990 they believed the building had been saved when it emerged the new road would run close to, but not through, the station.

But just three months later their fight began again when planners proposed to once again put the new link road through the station building because it would reduce the cost of the road scheme by £600,000.

The new campaign to save the building attracted the support of the Campaign for Real Ale, which had given the society its best county club award and placed it second in its national finals in 1990 and more than 14,000 people signed a petition to save it.

The future of the building once more looked like it was finally secure on January 8, 1991, when, thanks to public opposition, the county’s planning and transportation committee agreed to a new route for the link road which spared the station.

However, just six months later the county council began considering extending the proposed A6 bypass westward to join up with the A45, which once again meant there was a possibility the station would have to be demolished.

In the end it was not felt the extension was essential at that time and it did not happen.

Finally in 1996 the transport society bought the station, which has now been beautifully restored and continues to act as a museum and clubhouse.

It is also home to many of the society’s most popular annual events, including the Santa Specials and the 1940s Wartime Weekend.

To contact the society visit its website at www.rhts.co.uk or leave a message at the station on 01933 318988.