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Opinion : Wycombe’s endangered buildings : The 1854 railway station

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My good self has decided to write a short series of blogs featuring what I view as ‘Wycombe’s endangered buildings’.

In this series I hope to bring attention to the buildings that your humble servant feels are most likely to be lost unless something is done to save them.

Over the years sadly Wycombe has seen the wrecking ball wipe away many of its older, historic and beautiful buildings. Too many of our buildings have been turned to rubble and taken away in a skip. This is surely a dreadful shame.

Many buildings perished in the 1960’s when the Octagon shopping complex was constructed, more were flattened in 2008 when the town saw an extension to the shopping centre.

Even though Wycombe is not presently undergoing large scale development there are still many historic buildings left unattended slowly rotting away when they could be saved and put to good use.

For the first endangered building yours truly has chosen the towns first railway station which was constructed at the bottom of the Amersham Hill in 1854 to coincide with the opening of the Wycombe Railway’s new line to Maidenhead.

The building pictured above formed part of the station terminus, with connected engine shed, which was later used as a goods shed.

Unfortunately the station was built in a position that meant the line could not be extended northbound due to the buildings in Castle Street being in the way. A new station building was constructed further up the Amersham Hill which is the location of the station we use today.

On 11th December 2000 Wycombe’s first station building and all twenty two bays of the associated goods shed were afforded Grade II listed status.

Sadly in 2010 a large part of the goods shed, which incidentally was covered by the Grade II listing, was demolished seemingly because it blocked the view of the current railway station for anyone coming up the Amersham Hill. The actual words used on the planning application (planning reference 09/06025/FUL) were :

Explanation for Proposed Demolition Work:

Demolition of part of the existing structure is necessary to permit the refurbishment of the historic core of the building to be restored to an adapted form of the original terminus building as designed by Brunel, and to permit the creation of new public spaces around the station site, which will enhance the visibility of the station site from the town centre and improve the immediate environment of the station area.

Looking at the explanation (above) it’s an interesting question to ask why would we want ‘an adapted form of the original terminus building as designed by Brunel‘ when we actually had the original together with the extensions carried out over the years as the town grew.

What remained of the goods shed was supposed to be refurbished to provide a shopping mall serving Class A1 (retail), Class A3 (Restaurant/cafe) and Class B1 (business) units and public facilities and an extension to provide (375 sq.m.) of Class A1 retail floorspace.

Sadly the conversion of the remainder of the goods shed failed to materialise leaving, now six years later, a rotting hulk of a partially demolished Grade II listed building.

As you can see from the picture at the top of this blog the buddhlias are currently growing wild at the front of building while windows are left open. The 1854 railway terminus is a structure just waiting for vandals to come along and cause destruction.

The only attention the structure appears to have received in the past few years is having a large mural painted on the side in a similar fashion to those seen in Northern Ireland during the troubles of the 1970’s (see picture below). For my thoughts on the mural please see my blog entitled ‘Another of Wycombe’s historic buildings is ruined‘.

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The rear of the former station structure is a sorry sight too, as can be seen from the pictures below.

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For those who don’t remember what the building used to look like before it was demolished, please take a look a the pictures below.

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The question to ask is ‘Does this building has a future?‘. Sadly I fear not mostly because part of the historic structure was allowed to be demolished by the very organisations who were supposed to protect it.

The moral of this story is that just because a planning permission is submitted it does not mean the works will ever be carried out in their entirety. Demolition of historic buildings should never be allowed on the basis of a wish, they should be backed up by guarantee.

What do you think?

*My blogs are published every Tuesday and Friday evening around 8.00pm here on the WycombeToday.com website.

You can also follow me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ivor.wycombe or on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Ivor_Wycombe.

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