BUILDINGS at a railway station which have lain derelict for 20 years have been brought back to life.
Trains have continued to stop in the Sutherland village of Helmsdale but the premises had deteriorated badly. Helmsdale Station Community Interest Company (HSCIC) was set up in 2009 to rescue the listed station at the village.
The restored station waiting room now includes a small display covering the history of the building and promotes local amenities to new arrivals. The old stationmaster's accommodation has been refurbished and now provides self-catering accommodation. A photography dark room has also been fitted out for community use. The job of part-time caretaker/cleaner, who would maintain the station and promote Helmsdale attractions, will be advertised.
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Mike Wilmot, from HSCIC, said:"As chairman of a Community Rail Partnership in England, I was aware of the possibility of bringing the station building back to life as a collaborative community rail initiative. I'm grateful to both Network Rail and ScotRail, as well as to our funders, for helping to convert this dream into reality." Funding for the £122,500 project was secured through a number of sources including Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) which provided £9,790 for the final phase of the restoration work.
The project has received further support from Highland LEADER, the Railway Heritage Trust, the Stations Community Regeneration Fund and the East Sutherland & Edderton Ward Discretionary Grant Fund as well as a number of local agencies and businesses which have all donated time, advice and services.