A celebration to mark the completion of the latest phase of work to regenerate Chester Railway Station has taken place with the unveiling of a blue plaque on the West Pavilion’s platform 7.
The project was overseen by Chester Renaissance working alongside Network Rail, the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Railway Heritage Trust and Cheshire West and Chester Council.
Work on renovating the station’s platform 7 and West Pavilion buildings started in February.
Chester Renaissance Project Manager, Jochem Hollestelle, says the West Pavilion was externally refurbished by Network Rail while Arriva Train Wales’ work on the East Pavilion is now underway.
He said: “Both projects have been Townscape Heritage Initiative funded through the Chester Station and Approaches Scheme. Being a listed building, special consents had to be obtained to carry out the work and any new material used had to replicate the existing fixtures and fittings as closely as possible.
“Two unused out buildings that were out of character with the original structure, were demolished.
“Platform paving was taken up so the foundations could be renewed and any old serviceable slabs were reused and new slabs matched to the old. Coping stones lining the platform edge were taken up so they could be leveled and re-laid.
“The stone and brickwork of the West Pavilion was repaired and cleaned, and new cast iron guttering and rainwater pipes installed. Six doors and five windows were replaced, all matching the original style and all external windows, doors and pipe work has been painted.”
He added: “At roof level, the sheeting covering the gable ends of the canopies over platforms 4 and 7 was removed so steelwork could be repaired and painted before new glazing was fixed in place.
“Work still to come includes the footbridge linking the island platforms to the concourse and, in a completely separate scheme, a multi storey car park.”
Chester Renaissance Vice Chair and Chair of the Townscape Heritage Initiative Chester Station and Approaches, Cllr Stuart Parker, says the station is the first impression train visitors to the city have and it’s vital first impressions are positive.
He said: “The restoration of the West Pavilion has unveiled a beautiful building which was, for decades, covered with soot from trains and cluttered with redundant cables.
“The West Pavilion restoration is another step in the improvement of the station, with new passenger facilities being built and other projects in the pipeline, such as a complete overhaul of the over-bridge.
“I’m personally putting pressure on Network Rail to deliver the project which has been developed for the station and not to leave Chester station ‘half finished’.
“It’s important to make that difference for all of us in Chester and to bring the station up to a standard fit for the requirements of modern travel, business and tourism.”
Unveiling the plaque before an invited audience – Cheshire West and Chester Councillor Cllr Tom Parry said: “There is no doubt the West Pavilion building here at the station is one of the city’s finest structures. It has been lovingly restored to its former glory with amazing attention to detail while forming part of the wider Brook Street project.
“I am delighted with what has been achieved and look forward to the conclusion of work on the East Pavilion in due course.”
Andy Savage of the Railway Heritage Trust said: “It gives me great pleasure to have been involved in the restoration of the station’s West Pavilion. We are now well on the way to having a station fit for the 21st Century.”