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Listed Engine Shed in Wivenhoe destroyed by blaze

PUBLISHED: 17:15 21 September 2015 | UPDATED: 12:43 22 September 2015

Engine Shed fire in Wivenhoe. Photo: Tim Wilson  from Red Memory Box Training.

Engine Shed fire in Wivenhoe. Photo: Tim Wilson from Red Memory Box Training.

Archant

A derelict Grade II-listed building in north Essex has been gutted by a fire.

The Engine Shed at Wivenhoe station caught alight at around 11.45pm on Sunday night.

Firefighters from the town, Colchester and Brightlingsea, as well as the aerial ladder platform, tackled the fire and reported the building was “well alight”.

Incident commander Danny Partridge said: “On arrival, crews were faced with a well-developed fire which had engulfed the entire building.”

The blaze was extinguished by 1.40am, and no-one was injured in the incident.

The Engine Shed, a Grade II-listed building which was derelict but had community hub plans in place, burned down last night.  Photo: Sarah Lucy BrownThe Engine Shed, a Grade II-listed building which was derelict but had community hub plans in place, burned down last night. Photo: Sarah Lucy Brown

The cause is unknown, and Network Rail engineers yesterday ensured the building was safe ahead of a fuller inspection.

The building, actually a goods shed, dates back to 1902 when an older structure dating back to 1836 was re-built – also following a fire.

It became unused from the 1960s as the rail industry declined.

Community groups had hoped to turn the building into an auditorium, with planning permission granted in 2004, and then later a cultural heritage hub for Wivenhoe, but the large cost of renovating the building – an estimated £750,000 – proved too much to get the project off the ground.

Engine Shed fire in Wivenhoe. Photo: Alyson Wilson  from Red Memory Box Training.Engine Shed fire in Wivenhoe. Photo: Alyson Wilson from Red Memory Box Training.

Ian Endean, town mayor, said he was open to suggestions about the future of the site, though added that “anything has to be better than a pile of rubble”.

Wivenhoe Town Council were due to discuss the matter at a meeting last night.

Ian Reed, trustee at the East Anglian Railway Museum, said: “The museum was interested in acquiring the building some ten years ago, when the roof covering had come off but the timbers were reasonably sound, with a view to dismantling and relocating to the museum.

“As the building was listed it needed consent to move it and eventually we abandoned our interest.

“It is no great surprise to now see it go up in flames having sat derelict for so many years.

“The museum would be interested in reclaiming the bricks if the current owners were willing though I suspect in the end it will be flattened and one more of the few remaining Great Eastern Railway Goods Shed in virtually original layout will have disappeared.

“It is a shame it has to end this way but it just shows listing a building is often not the best way to see it have a future.”

Andy Savage, executive director at the Railway Heritage Trust, added: “I am sad as it looks like we have lost a building, though it is not the most serious loss we could have had.

“It was a shame no-one was able to come forward with a scheme for the Wivenhoe shed, for which we had offered financial support towards a restoration.

“The best way to save a heritage building is to find someone to use it who can look after it in the future.”

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