Newhaven Rail Station revamped as offices

Richard Arnot has spent years restoring Newhaven Station. Picture: Scott Taylor
Richard Arnot has spent years restoring Newhaven Station. Picture: Scott Taylor
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THE trains may have gone and the track lifted but a ­disused railway station is turning heads after being restored to its former glory – and let out as offices.

Newhaven Station on Craighall Road has been lovingly restored after standing derelict for years – its ticket office and waiting rooms ­converted to provide work “platforms” for employees needing a desk.

Retired firefighter Richard Arnot has spent eight years persuading the city council to let him take a lease on the property and the past four years working on the refurbishment.

“Externally I’ve put the station back to the way it looked,” said Mr Arnot, 63.

The original ticket hatch has been incorporated into one of the doors. And he plans a display of historical pictures of the station in the vestibule.

“I’m going to have some railway posters in the toilets too,” he said. “But I’m trying to resist making it too station-like in the office. It might put clients off if they end up working in a museum. I can’t imagine I’d be able to attract enough people who are all railway buffs.” It all started when he was on Newhaven Community Council.

“I noticed the old station had been broken into and was being vandalised and the police didn’t know who owned it. I found out it was the city council who owned and got them to make it secure.

“But they didn’t have any plans to do anything with it, so I thought I should put my money where my mouth is and do something myself. I managed eventually to acquire it from them on a very long lease and set about renovating it.”

The building, which sits above the old railway track – now a cycle path and walkway – is made entirely of timber.

“Once I opened it up I found out what I’d let myself in for,” he said. “It was about as bad as it could get.”

Much of the structural timbers had decayed and Mr Arnot was forced to replace about a third of it. The building was originally divided into seven compartments, including entrance and exit, ticket office, store, ladies’ waiting room, general waiting room and station master’s office.

Mr Arnot has created an entrance hall and toilet at one end and a fire exit and disabled toilet at the other. The five rooms have been interlinked to provide a large semi-open plan area with 12 work “platforms”.

He said he had not finalised the costs, but the renovation, including purchase of the lease, had cost at least £175,000.

Heritage consultant Catharine Kidd, 39, one of four businesses to have let out office space at the former station said: “There’s nothing like this in north Edinburgh”.

“I was working from home in a box room before,” she said. “I saw this place when it was being restored so I had my eye on it. I love it. He’s done a really good job. It’s nice and bright and every platform has a window.”

Richard Scott, chairman of Trinity community council, praised the project.

“It’s of historic interest in Trinity – it was part of the old line that ran through North Edinburgh. It was becoming a bit of a nuisance when it was standing derelict, but has brought it back into use and it has really enhanced that part of Craighall Road.”

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com