Wellingborough society's demolition fear for historic railway shed

Members of a Wellingborough campaign group have voiced their concerns over the future of a town landmark.

Wednesday, 15th January 2020, 9:15 am
Updated Thursday, 16th January 2020, 3:51 pm
The Roundhouse was used as a warehouse

The Wellingborough Roundhouse, originally accessed via Mill Road, was built in 1872 to house Midland Railways locomotives and a large train turntable.

After closure as a rail shed the red brick building saw use as a warehouse for Whitworths and Totectors but now Wellingborough Civic member, Bob Townson believes its future is in doubt.

He said: "This building has stood for 148 years with original brickwork and most roofing.

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The Roundhouse

"Many rail enthusiasts and ex-workers are in support of the Wellingborough Civic Society to ask for this building to be retained and converted for other use.

"If the facade and excellent internal shed features from the Midland Railway days could be saved this could be converted to a indoor market, with very little cost compared to a pull down and rebuild on site.

"There are many good examples of these as close as Market Harborough. It would only take a bit of foresight to the agents and planners to not pull it down but regenerate.

"This building has stood for 148 years. How many of your newer builds will be around for the same period?

Inside the building

Now owned by Bovis Homes, the roundhouse, which sits on land own which is part of the Stanton Cross development, can be found on the newly opened Roundhouse Way - the Finedon Road to Midland Road also known as Route 9.

In 2011, attempts were made to get the 60sq m shed listed but the then Secretary of State decided not to list the building under advice from Historic England.

The report said: "The Roundhouse, Mill Road, Wellingborough, also known as the Old Wellingborough Motive Power Station (15A), is too altered to meet the criteria and should not be listed.

"It belongs to the later phases of railway development and, although the Wellingborough roundhouse of 1872-73 retains its plan and external elevations, there have been substantial alterations and all of the internal fittings and equipment have been removed.

"Unfortunately, The Roundhouse known as No. 2 Locomotive Shed, Mill Road, Wellingborough does not have the special architectural and historic interest to merit listing in a national context."

Designed by John Holloway Saunders of the Midland Railway Architects Department in 1871, and built in 1872 to 1873, the surviving roundhouse went out of use in 1966.

It was following the closure that many of its original features were stripped out so it could be used as a distribution warehouse.

A Wellingborough council spokesman said : "The council has been notified of some local concern in respect of potential demolition of the No 2 Engine Shed (roundhouse) off Mill Road in Wellingborough.

"Bovis has confirmed that the building has been fenced off for safety reasons and that asbestos and structural surveys are being carried out on the building.

"Previously the council has looked to retain the building. In 2011, Historic England assessed whether the Totector building was eligible to be a listed building.

"It was confirmed that due to the number of changes the building had undergone over the years Historic England did not consider it eligible for listed status.

"The council is working with developers to assess the options available and has expressed the importance of retaining the building, if it is safe and viable to do so.

"Once the council has received the results of the surveys and costs associated with repair and restoration it will then establish the best way forward with the developers."

Civic Society member Judith Thompson said: "This is bad news for the town. We've got so many railway geeks judging by the number of books on the subject that we sell at the museum.

"There's nothing from stopping them demolishing it and it would be another bit of history gone.

"When you think of the number of houses going up, 3,500, surely we could find a use for it."

A spokesperson for Stanton Cross Developments LLP said:

“We are currently working with our partners on a variety of options for future uses of the building, taking into account its condition and potential for conversion and re-use.

At this stage, we cannot confirm whether it will be feasible to retain the building or not. We expect to have a clearer idea in the coming months.”