A derelict former station master’s house next to Denmark Hill station has been restored and could shortly open as a new cafe for the local area.

(c) The Arch Company

The station was built between 1864-66, with an Italianate booking hall — which was a “church” for a while and is now a pub, and sitting to the north of the ticket hall was Station Master’s house. However, by the late 1970s, the structure had fallen into disrepair, and in March 1980, arsonists set fire to the ticket hall and station master’s house. It took until 1985 for the ticket hall to be restored.

Although the rest of the buildings were repaired, the Station Master’s house, which by then was in use as a printer’s shop was never repaired, and has been empty for over 40 years.

It was added to Historic England’s Buildings At Risk Register, but it won’t be on the register next year, as it’s been restored at long last.

Over the past year, the interior of the gutted building has been repaired and made suitable to be leased out to a food or cafe style establishment. Until recently, it’s unlikely that anyone would occupy it as a cafe, but the opening of the northern entrance to the station in 2021 has increased passenger numbers passing the future cafe’s front door.

The £320,000 refurbishment included new timber sash windows, a new entrance matching the doors and panels on the station platform, retaining the original chimney stack and installing a new ceiling and timber floor. A £44,000 grant from the Railway Heritage Trust enabled the design of the new windows, doors, flooring and external repairs to closely follow the heritage style of the age and Victorian character of the building.

(c) The Arch Company

When built, two rooms were on the ground floor, with the chimney stack in the middle. The original plans were to remove the chimney, but it has been retained after discussions with English Heritage, while the internal walls have been taken down to create a larger space for the future occupant.

There is also a small outdoor terrace overlooking the railway station.

Tim Hedley-Jones, Director of the Railway Heritage Trust, said: “We are very happy to have supported The Arch Company in this project with a grant to bring disused space back into use while restoring heritage features. We are also pleased that this project will remove a building from Historic England’s ‘Buildings at Risk’ Register. It has been a longstanding aspiration of the Railway Heritage Trust to see this building restored and reused, and we’re delighted it now has a bright future.”

The Arch Company is now offering the restored building to rent.


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