Station house is back on track

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As a man with a passion for transport, Peter Simpson fulfilled one of his life’s ambitions when he bought the old station house at Cowbit.

However, he almost put it back on the market when he realised just how much restoration work was going to be involved for himself and his wife, Sarah.

They bought the property, in Back Gate, in August 2010 and moved in just over a year later, in the interval stripping walls, lifting carpets, installing central heating, pulling down crumbling lath and plaster walls and re-rendering every single ceiling and wall in the house.

What both Peter and Sarah were determined to do was to preserve as many as possible of the original features from its time as a station building, and so they also set about lovingly refurbishing original windows and polishing up fireplaces.

Peter, a transport journalist as well as owner of four classic cars and a 52-seater bus, said: “I have done a lot of car restoration in the past and the key there is to retain as much original as you can, repair as much as you can and replace only when necessary.”

The couple put this ethos into practice in their work on the house, dog-groomer Sarah surprising herself with her ability to do all kinds of manual jobs as well as her flair for design, which shines through in the restored home.

The sitting room is the heart of the home and was where passengers would once have entered the station building from the street in order to buy tickets, the office formerly positioned on the right-hand side of the room.

The waiting room was to the left – and the toilets beyond – and the original fireplaces at either end of the sitting room reflect the nature of their former use.

The fireplace in the old ticket office is fairly basic while the one in the former waiting room is far grander.

Passengers would once have accessed trains by stepping out on to the platform through the doors on the far side of the sitting room.

Peter says when they stripped windows they found the word ‘Cowbit’ in copperplate writing, so they were obviously specially made for the station. Interestingly, Peter and Sarah discovered the glass on what was the train tracks side is thicker.

Outside, the area where passengers would have waited for trains is intact, and the lower ground that once held the tracks comes in useful as a play area for the couple’s children, Katie (5) and James (4).

The signal box, which was once part of the site, was sold by a previous owner and that too is currently being restored.

Peter says Cowbit station, part of the Spalding to March railway line, closed in 1961.

The railway line itself was closed in 1982, so 30 years ago, and one of our readers, David Mead, has personal memories of that significant moment in history.