Station restoration: Heritage plaques revealed at Kettering and Wellingborough

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Today (30 March), plaques have been unveiled at two stations in Northamptonshire as Network Rail finish upgrading the historic platform canopies.

As part of the Midland Main Line Upgrade, Network Rail has reduced the size of the Grade II listed canopies at Kettering and Wellingborough stations to make way for overhead electric wires. This allows cleaner, greener trains to serve the stations.

Working closely with the Railway Heritage Trust – who contributed funding to the £2.5m scheme – Network Rail teams have carefully restored many of the canopies’ original features, including the finials, columns and roofs.

The Grade II listed Goods Shed at Wellingborough station has also been renovated to provide a walkway for passengers on Platform 1.

Representatives from Network Rail, East Midlands Railway (EMR), Historic England and the Railway Heritage Trust attended the unveiling of the blue plaques. They were joined by Dr Toby Driver, great-great-grandson of Wellingborough station’s original designer, Charles Henry Driver.

Kettering plaque unveiling. Becky Timmins, Sponsor at Network Rail (left), Cllr Larry Henson (right)

Gary Walsh, East Midlands Route Director for Network Rail said: “These plaques are testament to the carefully planned work our teams have carried out to restore the historic platform canopies at both Kettering and Wellingborough stations.

“This is part of a range of improvements we’ve made in the last few years to provide a better, more enjoyable experience for passengers in Northamptonshire. I’d like to thank our partners at the Railway Heritage Trust for their expertise, as well as passengers for their support and patience.”

Philip Hollobone, MP for Kettering said: “Recognition by the Railway Heritage Trust of the superb canopy renovation work and other improvements made at Kettering railway station is thoroughly well deserved.

“Kettering has had its railway station since 1857 and now in 2022 its most impressive original features have been lovingly restored whilst the recent electrification of the line and the latest improvements to the timetable mean that Kettering is now better connected than ever and more quickly both north and south. I would like to express my thanks and congratulations to all involved.”

Lisa Angus, Transition and Projects Director for EMR said: “We’re delighted with the restoration works on the canopies at Kettering and Wellingborough. The Heritage plaques honour the hard work that has been put into both stations throughout the Midland Main Line improvement works over the last few years.

“Our passengers will benefit greatly from the improved station environments at Kettering and Wellingborough, both now and in the future.”

Andy Savage, Executive Director of the Railway Heritage Trust, said: “I have been aware of the wonderful Midland Railway Stations at Kettering and Wellingborough for all of my career, as I started work in BR’s Nottingham office, over 50 years ago. I was delighted to be able to award substantial RHT grant aid, totalling almost £450,000, to ensure that the distinctive canopies at both stations were not only preserved on electrification of the route, but that they were also improved.

“It is a particular pleasure for me that on the last full day of my career we are able to unveil the plaques commemorating the restoration of the heritage features at both stations, and even more so that Dr Toby Driver, great- great-grandson of the original architect for both stations, Charles Henry Driver, is able to join us today to unveil the plaque, and to show us the drawing instruments that were used to design the buildings.”

This follows a series of station improvements that began in 2019. Network Rail has extended platforms 1, 2, 3 and 4 at Kettering station, as well as improving the lighting, CCTV and public announcement systems.

Recent improvements at Wellingborough station include a new Platform 4, new waiting shelters, lighting, CCTV and fencing, and the footbridge has been extended to reach the new platform.

Photo credit: Network Rail

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