RICHMOND STATION’S HERITAGE CENTRE
Just over 40 years ago, the last train left the market town of Richmond. The tracks were torn up and the old Victorian railway terminus looked as though its glory days were over. But in 2007, after an enormous community effort, the magnificent old building re-opened its doors to a new generation of visitors.
Today the building is home to a stylish café bar and restaurant; a modern, two-screen cinema; a spacious art gallery over two floors and a selection of artisan food producers.
Visitors to the building can find out more about The Station’s colourful history by visiting the interactive Heritage Centre, which is housed in the old Booking Office near the main entrance and open daily from 9.00am until 5.00pm. Entrance is free.
Displaying many original artefacts – including some Victorian handmade leather boots found under the platform, old account books and leather suitcases – the Centre gives a fascinating insight into the history of The Station.
There is information on the architect (George Townsend Andrews) who designed the building; and special displays dedicated to the people who worked in it and the many thousands who used it.
Look out for the railway timeline and a rolling programme of audio-visual presentations that bring the history of The Station to life.
A HISTORY OF RICHMOND STATION
The old station had a huge impact on Richmond and its community. Not only was it a major employer in the town but it also affected people’s lives in many different ways.
Goods of all kinds were regularly sent and received by local people, including luggage, parcels and produce, thereby greatly facilitating trade in the area.
People used the train to get to work in nearby Darlington, which opened up a whole host of new employment opportunities. Many townsfolk also travelled by rail to go shopping or access leisure venues and children used the train to get to school.
From its very beginning, the railway brought a steady stream of welcome visitors into the Georgian town and its surrounding countryside, and by the 1930s the LNER was organising combined rail and road excursions to Richmond and the Yorkshire Dales.
Likewise, local people were able to benefit from the many types of excursion tickets available, ranging from evening tickets to Darlington for the theatre and cinema or week-long holiday runabout tickets.
The military made great use of the railway line. Richmond was the headquarters of the North York Militia from Georgian times to the 1850s and then in the 1870s a large barracks was built in the town for the Green Howards regiment. The opening of the Catterick Camp military railway in 1915 led to heavier military use of the line and during World War 2, the railway was used extensively to transport troops.
This heavy reliance on the railway continued even when war was over and during the period 1945-63, National Service resulted in large numbers arriving at Catterick Camp for training, with fresh intakes of conscripts arriving by train every fortnight.