The restored Tynemouth Station got the royal seal of approval when it was officially re-opened by HRH The Princess Royal.
During a visit to North Tyneside Princess Anne viewed the restoration of the historic station before unveiling a plaque to mark the completion of the work.
Tynemouth Station is one of the best examples of Victorian railway architecture in Great Britain and was once considered to be one of the most ‘at risk’ buildings in England.
The listed structure, which celebrates its 130th birthday this year, has undergone a £3.68m grant-aided restoration, including £1.9m from the government’s Sea Change programme.
Funding was also provided by North Tyneside Council, Station Developments Ltd, English Heritage and Nexus.
The work has included the restoration of its distinctive glazed canopies which radiate out from its gently curving track and platforms; by extending the canopies, the amount of useable space has been considerably increased.
Due to the faceted, curved nature of the canopy structure, each pane of glass was individually sized and measured and over 4600 panes have been installed above the 18 restored bays.
Director General of Nexus, Bernard Garner, said: “The conservation work at Tynemouth station is fantastic. It is great to see the modern Metro service running through this station with its Victorian architecture that has been so lovingly restored.”
Elected Mayor for North Tyneside, Mrs Linda Arkley said: “The transformation of Tynemouth Station is a true tale of a heritage phoenix rising from the ashes. It is a fabulous monument to Victorian architecture that has been rescued from collapse, reshaped and reinvented for the twenty first century.
“Now that it has been given a new lease of life, I hope that it continues to serve and inspire the local community, artists and visitors for the next 130 years.”
Carol Pyrah, English Heritage Planning Director for the North East, said: “After many years of hard work and uncertainty, it’s wonderful to see the start of Tynemouth Station as a cultural destination. The station itself is such an inspiring setting to be in and now the repair work to the canopies has been carried out, the station is all set to be the heart of Tynemouth’s community once more.”
Morris Muter, Chief Executive of Station Developments Limited, said: “This commemoration of the station’s official opening after restoration, by HRH The Princess Royal, marks another milestone in the station’s history, which has enabled the grandest of buildings, which had fallen foul of economic times and changes in transport habits, to be returned to its former glory.
“But possibly the greatest achievement will have been to have laid down the grounds for a sustainable future for the station 50 or 100 years hence. Time has proven that buildings of this nature can only be sustained by finding alternative viable uses, so the creation of new income streams will enable sustainable maintenance for the foreseeable future. This has been partially achieved through the present retail businesses and markets, but the last remaining elements have still to come to fruition. We will be working to put the last piece of the jigsaw into place so that future generations will be able to retain this incredible building and never let it fall into disrepair again.”
Ylana First, Secretary to the Friends of Tynemouth Station and Arts Co-ordinator for Tynemouth Station, added: “On behalf of the Friends of Tynemouth Station, I would like to give special thanks to everyone who made this dream come true; to Mr Morris Muter and Lord Devonport for refusing to walk away from the station project when many would have done so and to all the contractors, consultants and funders, who have enabled the station to arise phoenix-like, to possibly become The Crystal Palace of the North East.
“Words cannot express my joy and excitement at seeing the station's completion in all its glory. I doubt if anyone will have seen it in all its pristine splendour since 1882 when it was first opened.”
The project at Tynemouth also saw enhancements to the station’s concourse, providing additonal retail and performance space. As well as being a working station for the Tyne and Wear Metro, the newly restored building aims to provide an all year round cultural venue for the region with opportunities for exhibitions, heritage events, fairs and festivals. This will also support the retailers at the station, and its popular weekend markets.
Overall, the scheme has given a brand new lease of life to this stunning and distinctive example of Victorian architecture.
This final phase of the regeneration of Tynemouth Station, which began in August 2007, has been led by a group of partners including Station Developments Ltd, English Heritage, North Tyneside Council and Nexus.
It has been supported by local community and interest groups, including The Friends of Tynemouth Station and Tynemouth Village Association; the groups have been particularly instrumental in maintaining the cultural life of the station.
Princess Anne was greeted at Tynemouth Station by Lord Devonport, Chair of Millhouse Developments - the parent company of Station Developments Ltd. She met meet the Elected Mayor for North Tyneside, Linda Arkley; Carol Pyrah, Heritage Planning Director for the North East; Morris Muter, Managing Director of Station Developments Ltd; and Bernard Garner, Director General of Nexus.
The Princess also met members of restoration project team, community groups involved in the project, and Tynemouth Market traders.
The Princess then viewed a photography exhibition which charts the history of the station, and was presented with a book to mark its 130th anniversary.
She met pupils from Cullercoats Primary School, King Edward Primary School and Priory Primary School and who created a mural for the station whilst it was under development.
During the visit, North Tyneside’s School Concert Band performed a musical composition that was commissioned to mark the station’s refurbishment, composed by locally-based composer James Rae.
The Princess was then invited to unveil a plaque to officially re-dedicate the station.