At the Romsey and District Buildings Preservation Trust recent annual meeting chairman, Professor Peter Shoolingin-Jordan, was optimistic that plans to restore the Stationmaster’s House at the town’s railway station could get back on track.
The building has lain derelict for over a decade despite attempts by the trust to initiate a restoration programme.
However, the recent government announcement that future rail franchise awards will be for longer periods and will require Train Operating Companies (TOCs) to be more responsible for maintaining and improving railway buildings offers a ray of hope, said Professor Shoolingin-Jordan. The hope is that the next TOC to be awarded the franchise will be more inclined to pay attention to the restoration of the Stationmaster’s House and that the trust can play a major role in the work.
The chairman also made reference to the successful year that the Romsey Signal Box project had enjoyed, including the 20th anniversary of its reopening as a heritage and educational facility.
Dick Hewett, chairman of the Friends of the Signal Box, gave a short summary of the past year’s activities, which had included repainting and the installation of additional signals.
Mr Hewett made a special mention to Clive Millward, who had been responsible for a tremendous amount of the work on the site, but who, sadly, had resigned in the summer.
To augment much-needed funds, the Friends of the Signal Box will use the trust’s charitable status, as well as their own, to reclaim Gift Aid on donations and subscriptions.
The main part of the meeting was occupied by a presentation, “A Future for Buildings Trusts”, by Dr James Moir, director of the National Association of Building Trusts, who was introduced by secretary, Dr Frank Akerman.
Dr Moir reviewed the substantial accomplishments of preservation trusts nationally in saving threatened buildings.
In the light of the difficulties that the Romsey Trust had had in finding new projects, he outlined alternative approaches upon which the trust could embark, including passing its expertise on to other organisations, developing social enterprise/skills programmes for young people, collaborating with other organisations, broadening its geographical area, embarking on a “watch” for historic buildings to prevent their deterioration and expanding its remit to take advantage of European funding for training programmes.