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Full steam ahead for rail project as Crowdfunding appeal is launched

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Businesses are being urged to rally round a railway station restoration project which has been officially launched with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.Middleton Towers Restoration Group is looking to preserve and restore to its former glory the dilapidated Middleton Towers ticket office and waiting room, transforming the buildings into a pop-up tea room with some memorabilia on display.West Norfolk Mayor and Mayoress, Paul and Marion Bland, were given a tour of the site last Sunday where they heard all about the project and Mr Bland cut a ribbon at the gate area to mark the official start of the work.

Mayor Paul Bland cuts the ribbon, signifying the start of the project works.

King’s Lynn man Alex Brammer, who is spearheading the project, said the mayor was very interested in learning more about the transformation vision.“He was happy to listen to us and was very interested to hear what we had to say. We cleaned up the front and showed him and the mayoress around and told them our vision.”Group volunteers spent time clearing the platform area, fitting an access gate, replacing fence posts and painting. “It took a lot of time. We cleared rubble off the platform and did a lot of tidying up and assessing what to do next,” said Alex.

The waiting room.

Representatives of site owners Network Rail also attended the launch as the volunteers have to create a safe access route to the station without the need to go through the main crossing gate.The project now needs the backing of businesses and a Crowdfunding appeal has been launched in the hope of raising around £2,500 towards the cost of materials, equipment and scaffolding hire. Alex explained any grants the group is successful in obtaining will not cover these costs. “We need to fix up the buildings, the roof needs fixing and the canopy, once it’s all made safe we can get in and gut it out. We want it to be a pop-up tea room and dining area. The idea is still up in the air but it can sustain a pop-up. We want to restore it to how it looked before it closed,” he said.“We are a Community Interest Company now. We are relying solely on donations and the generosity of companies coming forward. We want to get as much work done in the next year as we can before the insurance runs out.“The reason for the Crowdfunding is to do the work the grants cannot pay for. If someone wants to donate it will not go towards legal fees or accountants it is going towards doing up the building. “We need businesses to come forward as well as the public. It doesn’t have to be all about money, it can be materials – bricks, slates, plaster – anything we can keep and use.”In return for business sponsorship, Alex said there is space for company banners to be displayed on site.Alex, who is an enthusiast of old railways and buildings, founded the restoration group, of which he is director, in 2021 with the aim of restoring the station site for community use.The station was the first stop on the former rail line between King’s Lynn and Dereham which closed to passengers in 1968 after more than 120 years of use. Some of the track has ben retained and is still used for freight transporting silica sand for Sibelco UK Ltd.There is a link on the Middleton Towers Restoration Group’s Facebook page to the Crowdfunder which can also be found at www.middletontowers.org.uk/crowdfundAny businesses or individuals wanting to support the project in any way can also email Alex at mtrg.norfolk@gmail.com

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