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Crowdfunding appeal to return station to Art Deco glory and create new community hub

The Friends of Bishopstone Station have launched a crowdfunding appeal to boost their bid to convert a rundown station storeroom into a community hub.

The group’s long-term plan is to restore the 1930s Grade II-listed station building back to its Art Deco glory, creating a much-needed space for use by various community groups.

Any monies raised will be used to renovate the former general store, which was part of the old railway parcels office. Planning permission and listed building consent for the works has already been granted.

Barbara Mine, chair of the Friends of Bishopstone Station (FoBS), formed in 2017, said: “The work is costly, and our fundraising events from quizzes, book sales and auctions have brought in some money – but not enough to pay for all the work needed to make the space fit for community use. That’s why we have created this Crowdfunder to appeal to the wider world to help us.”

Bishopstone Station is on the Seaford to Brighton Line, and was designed by architect James Robb Scott. He was the chief architect of the Southern Railway and was also responsible for the redesign and Victory Arch at Waterloo Station.

Bishopstone itself was built in 1938 to accommodate a new housing estate, but the housing was shelved when World War II started, and the unique Art Deco Station was used for military purposes. Brick gun emplacements were added, and Bishopstone is the only station building in the UK with gun turrets.

In the 1970s, the parcels office was used as a general store and newsagents, but has lain empty since 2015. FoBS say the local community have shown great support for their plans to restore the station, and the project received an additional boost from the railway historian Tim Dunn, who visited Bishopstone in December 2020 to film for his programme ‘The Architecture the Railways Built.’

The crowdfunding appeal follows on from the recent completion of another major project which saw FoBS install an integrated travel map at the station to encourage visitors to explore the wider community.

The map shows travellers enjoying a range of leisure pursuits including walking, cycling, horse-riding, swimming, and sailing, and highlights rail and bus connections to and from the station.

The map was a joint project involving FoBS, South Downs National Park, Community Rail Network, Southeast Communities Rail Partnership, and Southern.  

Jools Townsend, chief executive of Community Rail Network, said: “The project is a fantastic example of true partnership work, something community rail groups really do excel at. Connecting railways to their communities and the beautiful countryside which surrounds so many lines is so important to the future.”