Councillor’s dream was right on track

Moorthorpe railway station comes runner up in national competition for the regeneration work that has transformed the look of the old station building.'Pictured L to R) Cllr Laurie Harrison, Cllr David Mothershaw and Chris Geeson - Town Clerk for South Kirkby & Moorthorpe.'h303a302
Moorthorpe railway station comes runner up in national competition for the regeneration work that has transformed the look of the old station building.'Pictured L to R) Cllr Laurie Harrison, Cllr David Mothershaw and Chris Geeson - Town Clerk for South Kirkby & Moorthorpe.'h303a302
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THE DEDICATION of councillors who saved Moorthorpe Station from being demolished has been recognised.

The derelict building was an eyesore for passengers and it looked inevitable its then owners, Railtrack, would pull it down.

But the leader of South Kirkby and Moorthorpe Town Council Laurie Harrison and his fellow councillors had different plans.

They fought for a £400,000 restoration to restore the station.
And now a decade on they have created a station with a waiting room, toilets and a cafe plus specialist office accommodation.

Last month, members of the council were invited to attend the National Railway Heritage Awards in London.

They missed out of first place but councillors were happy to have been acknowledged for their efforts.

Coun Harrison, said: “The chairman commented to me at the awards that he thought Moorthorpe was the best, but unfortunately he wasn’t judging.

“Nonetheless it was very rewarding and the recognition that we were right in pursuing the renovation of the station.

“It has put us on the map.”

The station, which was opened by the Swinton and Knottingley Joint Railway in 1879, closed in the 1960s but remained a stop for commuters travelling between Leeds and Sheffield as well as those using the twice-daily service to York.

It was later leased out as a short lived pub and several ‘unsympathetic’ extensions were added to the front and back of the building.

But after it closed the building was left to decay.

Railtrack took the decision to demolish it but councillors felt it should be saved.

And on the day the demolition was supposed to take place Coun Harrison lead the protests and told the company to leave.

That was more than ten years ago and after many years’ hard work the station is a landmark for the area.

Coun David Mothershaw, who was an architect on the project, praised the leader of the council.

He said: “If it hadn’t been for Laurie Harrison digging his heels in and refusing for it to be knocked down, it wouldn’t be here today.”

They spent a total of £400,000 on the project – with £265,000 raised in grant aid from the Green Corridor Initiative and Railway Heritage Trust.

The majority of the money was spent on the station, but the new facilities are helping bring money back into the community and local economy.

The Hon Sir William McAlpine, chairman of the awards, said Moorthorpe was one of the most enjoyable projects to see, as it went from a derelict station to being used regularly.

He said it had been restored to a very high standard.

Sir McAlpine said: “Our most enjoyable projects are those where we have seen derelict stations brought back into use.

“Moorthorpe was a very satisfying restoration of a derelict building and has been restored to an extremely high standard.”