Richmond’s historic railway station suffered the same fate as many others when sweeping British Rail cuts in the 1960s saw services scrapped.

Unlike some, Richmond’s building – with notable architecture – found a new lease of life as a farming supplies and garden centre, which kept it in use until 2001, when the fate of the site faced a very real junction.

Plans for commercial development met local opposition and that led directly to the formation of the Richmondshire Building Preservation Trust, a charity with the objective of preserving the station’s heritage.

With much community support through fundraising – in addition to successful grant applications – that led to the station’s rebirth as a community venue, capitalising on the iron framed structure which once spanned the platforms and track to create an impressive new space, in keeping with the Grade II* listed status the building was granted in the 1980s.

The inside of Richmond Station

General manager Chris Brown said: “It was all done in consultation with the local community and originally led by a small team of local volunteers, with no experience of projects to this scale. When plans to sell the site to commercial developers were announced, the community rallied together to preserve its heritage and create a unique community space.”

Since then, The Station, as it is now called, has become embedded as part of Richmond’s community, offering facilities for residents and visitors, including a three-screen cinema, art gallery, café, meeting spaces, dance studio and independent artisans and shops.

In November, The Station will mark its 15th anniversary since it opened in its current form.

While the complex accommodates some businesses on a conventional basis as tenants, there has been a move towards operating more of the functions directly, including the cinema, which passed back to the trust earlier this year.

Outside Richmond station

That provides an eclectic choice of films, from the latest blockbusters to more specialised material.

All revenue generated by the Richmondshire Building Preservation Trust is reinvested into The Station or retained for future heritage restoration in Richmondshire.

Chris Brown said while venues like the cinema are operated by paid staff, The Station still attracts volunteers.

“They help throughout the building, meeting and greeting people, they are the face of The Station,” he said.

That ‘face’ is clearly a welcome sight, because following the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns, visitor numbers have bounced back, with most recent figures showing 330,000 passing through the doors in 12 months – returning to pre-pandemic levels.

A return to healthy visitor levels is a fitting way for The Station to mark its anniversary and progress into the future.