Sutton villagers walk in protest to save Victorian railway station heading for Peterborough's Railworld Wildlife Haven

Plans for the station are to take it down and move it seven miles away

By Robert Alexander
Wednesday, 22nd June 2022, 1:32 pm
Residents of Sutton Village walking towards the former Sutton railway station which they hope to save and re-position (image: David Lowndes)
Residents of Sutton Village walking towards the former Sutton railway station which they hope to save and re-position (image: David Lowndes)

A protest walk trying to save the Victorian former railway station, in Sutton, attracted more than 40 villagers after plans were proposed to move it to Peterborough's Railworld Wildlife Haven

The event saw protestors set off from St Michaels & All Saints Church at 6.30pm on June 21 and walk almost two miles in their bid to save the station.

The protest was organised by Sutton villager and local eco-warrior, Robbie Reid, who farms land adjacent to the A47 next to the location of the former railway station.

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Horseman, Mr Reid (pictured), got the nickname ‘Swampy 3’ after he threatened to climb the trees on his farm next to the A47 route to prevent them from being cut down.

“We believe this is part of the Victorian heritage of the village of Sutton and as such it should remain here for the people of Sutton and others to use," Mr Reid said.

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It comes as the railway station and associated buildings have to be moved brick-by-brick to a new location because they are in the way of the National Highways' A47 dualling project, soon to get underway.

The project means the station, which was built in 1869 but was closed under the 1960s' Beeching cuts, would be saved but moved outside the parish.

The former station will be taken down brick-by-brick.

Mr Reid has previously said he will allow the buildings to be moved 200 metres on to his property where it can be reassembled and looked after as part of a trust for the village.

However, one of the bidders to move the site, Nene Valley Railway, said they want the station to be moved to a site seven miles away at Peterborough’s visitor attraction Railworld Wildlife Haven

What's the history behind the railway station?

Sited midway between the villages of Sutton , Wansford and Upton, but based in the parish of Sutton - the station formerly called ‘Wansford Road’ station - was situated on the Stamford and Sibson branch of the Stamford and Essendine Railway.

Wansford Road railway station was erected in 1867 on the busy turnpike road used by carrier carts, which today is the A47.

The station had a busy set of cattle pens which were used for loading sheep on trains bound for the market at Stamford.

Sadly, livestock outnumbered people and the station was closed to passengers in 1929, and closed altogether in 1931.

Since then it has been a family home, but the last occupants died some years ago and because of the success of the villagers of Sutton in altering the route of the A47 dualling project, the station and buildings now have to be moved somewhere.

‘Beautiful buildings’

Speaking on the protest walk, ward councillor Gavin Elsey, said: “These are historic buildings and you can completely understand the people of Sutton and the surrounding villages in wanting to keep a piece of their Victorian heritage within the parish boundary and I shall do all I can to support them in their goal.”

David Turnock Chair of Peterborough Civic Society added: “This is the first time that I’ve been here but I have to say these are beautiful buildings.

“I’m a great believer that when you have some heritage which is a good as this you should keep it in the local area where it is.

“Now we all want the A47 to improve, so it’s got to move, but let’s move it just a little way and put it the other side of the road on some land which Robbie’s got, and which is already a wildlife area, thereby putting it to another good purpose – to my mind, let’s keep it local.”

‘Historic building back on right track’

Chris Griffin, National Highways Programme Lead in the East Region, said: "Breathing life into the old Sutton Station building, which has remained unused for a number of years, was something we wanted to do as it currently sits in the path of the new A47 upgrade.

"We invited applications from interested parties who could repurpose the building. These were independently judged by Historic England and Peterborough Council with a decision to dismantle and rebuild the station as part of the nearby Nene Valley Railway. This is a charity project run by volunteers which cherishes and restores railway buildings and equipment.

"We are really pleased to see this historic building put back on the right track and fulfilling its railway heritage as part of a gateway to the Nene Valley Railway from its starting point in Peterborough."

So, what's next?

The next step will be a meeting of all the interested parties in the station - with a date to be confirmed in due course.

They include the villagers of Sutton, the parish councillors of Sutton and Wansford and representatives of Nene Valley Railway and Peterborough Railworld Wildlife Haven, Peterborough City Council Planning Committee, Highways England and English Heritage.

By the Local Democracy Reporting Service.