Railway Station built in 1845 for the Norfolk Railway, comprising booking office, waiting room and Station Master’s house, with signal box added in 1883.
Reason for Listing
The station building, built in 1845, and signal box, added in 1883, at Attleborough Railway Station are listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Historic Interest: it is an early example of a station building.
* Architectural interest: the station building has an eclectic design, which is typical of the period, and achieves an overall stylistic coherence whilst clearly articulating in its elevational treatment the three main components of waiting room, booking office and Station Master’s house.
* Rarity: the signal box is a rare survival of the Great Eastern Railway type 4 design, of which there are only seven surviving examples (none currently listed); and it retains the 1912 McKenzie & Holland 4” type mechanical signal lever frame.
* Context: The survival of several other structures from the 1845 station complex provides an important context for the buildings recommended for designation.
Attleborough Railway Station was opened by the Norfolk Railway in July 1845 as part of the celebration for the opening of the entire double track from Bishop’s Stortford to Norwich. The line is just over 92 miles and is believed to be the longest section of railway ever opened in this country at one time. In 1862 this part of the line was taken over by the Great Eastern Railway Company. In 1883 the signal box was built to what is known as the Great Eastern Railway type 4 design which is characterised by its brick, as opposed to timber, construction. The mechanical signal lever frame was built in 1912 by McKenzie & Holland of Worcester, one of the leading signalling contractors. It is of their 4” type and is still in use.
The station complex consisted of the main station building on the north side of the track, comprising the lamp room, waiting room and lavatories, booking office, Station Master’s house, and the detached signal box. A set of undated plans (probably late C19) on display in the building show that the Station Master’s house consisted of a sitting room, bedroom, kitchen, scullery, and pantry. The plans show the proposed addition of a first floor to provide three further bedrooms; this work was carried out. There were two goods sheds at the station: one at the rear along the east side (since demolished); and one on the south side of the track, which has been partly demolished and is now in separate ownership. On the south side of the track, further along to the west, there was a platform canopy and a small, single-storey building, probably a waiting room. This has since been removed but the canopy is still in use. The small, single-storey dwelling used by the gatekeeper, located at the crossing on the north side of the tracks, has been extended and is now in private ownership. To the west of this was a row of three railway cottages. In former years the station at Attleborough was very busy. In 1923, when the London and North Eastern Railway Company assumed ownership, it had three private sidings that served local industries, and during the Second World War the Air Ministry installed further sidings to unload the materials to build the three American airfields located nearby. In the mid-1960s, the freight facilities were withdrawn and most of the sidings were removed. The station remained open but the booking office and waiting room were closed. These rooms have since been used for various purposes, most recently as a veterinary practice which also occupies the former Station Master’s house.
The station has undergone alterations since it was first built. A photograph from 1932 shows that the first-floor addition to the Station Master’s house was rendered, and another photograph taken five years later shows the whole of the house rendered, presumably to distinguish it from the red-brick public rooms of the station. The former staff entrance on the south side of the ticket office has been blocked up and replaced with a window, and there is evidence of other blocked and altered openings at the east end of the Station Master’s house (the former service end). Some of the station’s timber sash windows have been replaced with uPVC windows. The canopy on the main platform has recently been re-roofed.
Internally, the fixtures and fittings in the waiting room or ticket office have been removed, with the exception of a fireplace; and partition walls and suspended ceilings have been inserted. The plan form of the Station Master’s house has survived with a greater degree of intactness.
MATERIALS: The red-brick station has pitched, slate-covered roofs and painted dressings which are likely to be stone. The former Station Master’s house is rendered. The signal box is constructed of red brick.
PLAN: The long, linear plan comprises, from left to right, a two-storey Station Master’s house, a double-height ticket office and a single-storey waiting room with lavatories. These three elements are attached but under separate roofs. On the far right is a signal box which is slightly set back and attached to the main range by the single-storey, former lamp-room, and a wall, both partly rebuilt.
EXTERIOR: The station building has an eclectic design. The north elevation forms the entrance front, on the left hand side of which is the three-bay Station Master’s house. The three ground-floor uPVC windows have wide, plain, lugged architraves, as do all the windows on the north elevation. On the first floor, the first and third bays have gabled dormers with C19 timber sash windows below the eaves. On the left is a slightly lower projection which has a plain parapet and a long, vertical window and door set under the same wide lintel. All the windows on the main station building are tall and deeply recessed. To the right of the Station Master’s house is the slightly projecting, double-height former ticket office, painted overall. It has a slightly projecting gabled bay with three windows and a moulded, pointed-arched niche in the gable head, which was probably originally louvred, as shown in the historic plan. The central bay was originally flanked by two doors but the one on the right has been replaced by a window. All the windows of the former ticket office are uPVC. To the right is the three-bay, single-storey former waiting room which has a plain parapet and tall timber sashes in each bay. In between the first and second bay is a door with a segmental brick head. On the south elevation, which forms the platform front, the waiting room and ticket office are sheltered under a flat, timber canopy with a chevron edge. The three-bay waiting room has timber sash windows set in wide, moulded architraves with projecting, rectangular hood moulds. To the right is a four-panelled door under a segmental arched brick head, above which is a rectangular memorial tablet inscribed: ‘MEMORIAL DEDICATED TO THE MEN OF THE 452ND BOMB GROUP (H) WHO SACRIFICED THEIR LIVES IN WORLD WAR II THAT THE IDEALS OF DEMOCRACY MIGHT LIVE’. This is followed by another window, a blocked doorway, now containing a uPVC window, and then three more timber sash windows. The south elevation of the Station Master’s house is similar to the north except it has two windows in the first bay, a blocked window in the second, and three gabled dormers; all the windows are timber sashes except the uPVC window in the third bay on the ground floor. To the right is a lower section with a plain parapet and a blocked doorway, followed by a brick wall enclosing the former service yard. The signal box, on the west end of the station building, has one-storey and a basement. The shallow-pitched roof has overhanging eaves, weather-boarding in the gable heads, and decorative timber bargeboards. It is accessed via an external flight of steps on the south-west side, through a partly glazed door with a segmental brick head. At first-floor level, three sides are glazed with a continuous band of large, sliding, multi-pane windows with timber glazing bars. There is a dentilled string course at basement level which is lit by two small windows with segmental arched brick heads. The 1912 mechanical signal lever frame is in-situ and in working order.
INTERIOR: The back-to-back fireplaces between the former waiting room and booking office (shown on the historic plan) are no longer there, leaving an open plan room in which the original fixtures and fittings have been removed. A wall has been built down the middle of the booking office, and a plain, painted fireplace inserted in the east wall. The remaining part of the booking office has been subdivided into smaller rooms, probably in the early C21. The plan form and joinery of the former Station Master’s House survives with a much greater degree of intactness. The plain, timber lintel fireplace in the former sitting room survives, as does the dog-leg stair with stick balusters, and much original joinery, including the C19 four-panelled doors, doorcases, picture rails and skirting boards.
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.