A major refurbishment of the roof of Preston railway station is planned after decorative cast iron adornments plunged onto the platforms and track below.Advertisement
Ahead of the overhaul – a date for which has not been revealed – Network Rail has applied for permission to undertake so-called “trial removals” of a selection of features from the Grade II-listed structure. The aim is to get a better understanding of the work that will be involved when the entire roof is given a much-needed revamp.
It follows what the organisation responsible for the nation’s railway infrastructure describes as “failures” of ironwork in recent years which have posed “a risk to passengers” and demonstrated the “deterioration of the roof”, according to a report submitted to Preston City Council planners.
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Temporary repairs were carried out in 2019/20, but it has now been deemed that a more permanent solution is required at Preston Railway Station.
The report that has now been presented to the city council – as part of an application for consent to carry out works to a listed building – was originally prepared in May 2022. It states that what were then the most recent failures included the loss of a length of moulding to the underside of an arched truss on Platform 3, “adjacent to the modern infill between the two original station buildings”.
A number of cast iron “pendants”, located on the main roof trusses, had also fallen or appeared at risk of doing so.
The document noted: “The roofs [of the station] are principally of wrought iron construction, but with a large number of cast iron elements, both decorative and structural.
“Whilst a number of cast iron element failures have occurred, the existing structure is generally in fair condition, with only small areas of superficial corrosion loss in general.
“More significant levels of corrosion are present in certain locations, primarily those exposed to the weather or exposed to regular wetting through defective drainage [and] leaks.
“Following the failures noted previously, temporary supports have been implemented to mitigate the risk of any further catastrophic failures of some of the decorative cast iron elements.”
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It is hoped that the proposed trial removals will enable the cast iron features to be cleaned, repaired and painted before being reinstalled – although it is acknowledged that replacements might be required in some cases.
The safety and heritage impacts of the removals have all been assessed and trial removal is not suitable for all features, meaning hands-on inspections will be needed in some cases to glean a full understanding of the roof structure.
A Network Rail spokesperson told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “We’ve been making ongoing repairs to Preston station’s roof in recent years after some sections were damaged during strong winds and storms. This has involved detailed condition surveys and securing corroded parts of the roof with temporary supports ahead of a multi-million-pound overhaul in the near future.
“In preparation for that work we have recently applied to the council to trial removal of some of the original cast ironwork. This is the first step to make sure the Grade II listed structure retains its heritage features while allowing our engineers to plan how they will use the latest technology and best materials to complete the full repair job across the whole roof when the time comes.”
Read more: Railway memories of Preston Railway Station
Preston station was opened in 1838 by the North Union Railway and has seen a number of changes to its extent – both as a result of expansion and contraction – over the years along with a number of upgrades.
The current station structure was largely constructed around 1880 and holds Grade II Listed status.
A significant expansion of the facility was undertaken on the west side in around 1903, including modifications to the north west corner of the original roof structure – but the expanded roof was subsequently demolished to leave the slightly modified original structure in this location.
At the same time, the southern parts of the longer 1880 train sheds were demolished.
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