Clare: Heritage group adds weight to campaign to secure future of former railway buildings in country park

The former Clare railway station in Clare Country Park.

The former Clare railway station in Clare Country Park. - Credit: Archant

Railway enthusiasts keen to secure the future of buildings in Clare Country Park have been given a boost by a national heritage organisation.

The former Clare railway station in Clare Country Park.

The former Clare railway station in Clare Country Park.

The park, which houses the 13th Century Clare Castle ruins and former railway station, is owned by Suffolk County Council and managed by St Edmundsbury Borough Council. But last year due to budget cuts, the county asked for proposals from groups interested in assuming ownership and management of the park.

Clare Town Council has been engaged in lengthy negotiations with the county council and has now formed a group of trustees-elect to manage the park and buildings.

Although the facility remains open to visitors, the park ranger was made redundant as a result of the cuts and the former railway buildings were boarded up. Local people concerned about the future of the buildings contacted historians at the Great Eastern Railway Society, and on the back of their research, an application was made to English Heritage, which has granted Grade 2 Listed status to both the station buildings and the goods shed.

Tony Calladine of English Heritage said: “The Clare goods shed - used as the country park’s visitor centre since 1971 after the Beeching cuts closed the line in 1967 - is the sole survivor of the eleven examples built to the 1865 type design.”

Plans are underway to apply for a Heritage Lottery Fund grant, which could secure the financial future of the country park and its buildings. The idea is to renovate the goods shed and use it as a visitor/heritage centre, and meeting place.

A recent week-long archeological dig between the railways buildings funded by the “Managing a Masterpiece” project has unearthed prehistoric artifacts, Anglo-Saxon human remains and medieval pottery.

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