Staff finally at Kirkgate

Council Leader Peter Box and Ken Taylor from Groundwork at Kirkgate Station,Wakefield
Council Leader Peter Box and Ken Taylor from Groundwork at Kirkgate Station,Wakefield

KIRKGATE Railway Station could finally be staffed and brought back to life with a £3.5m project.

Environmental regeneration charity Groundwork has announced plans to restore the grade II listed building, dubbed the city’s station of shame, into a community hub.

The isolated station has been left to fall into disrepair and has become a no-go area for rail passengers, especially after dark.

Groundwork has already secured £1.25m worth of funding from Wakefield Council, the Rail Heritage Trust and various rail operators.

Bids for more than £2m have been submitted to the European Union and other funding bodies.

If approved, work is set to start next April to restore the station and redevelop the existing buildings into space for businesses and social enterprises with a cafe and a shop.

The Express Staff Our Station campaign was launched in January 2009 after a woman was subjected to an horrific sexual attack in the notoriously grim underpass.

If the plans go ahead the Express understands the station will be staffed for the first time in more than 30 years with security staff on site.

Ken Taylor, executive director of Groundwork Wakefield, said: “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bring the station back to being the jewel it once was at the heart of the community.

“We are determined to redevelop the building for the benefit of the city and its people.”

A contribution of £500,000 from Wakefield Council is set to be approved by the cabinet later this year.

Coun Peter Box, leader of Wakefield Council, said: “The standard of Kirkgate Station is clearly unacceptable at the moment, and it must improve, especially as more and more visitors are now coming to Wakefield.”

MP Mary Creagh said: “Kirkgate Station is an important gateway to the city with the Hepworth Gallery across the road. It’s important that it offers a vibrant and welcoming entrance to the city.”

Staff Our Station was backed by the then prime minister Gordon Brown, former transport secretary Lord Adonis, local MPs and more than 3,000 readers.

In August 2009 the first victory of the campaign was declared when rail bosses crumbled under pressure from the Express and brought forward plans to install CCTV to improve security.

Later that year the efforts of the Express were recognised when Staff Our Station won campaign of the year at the Yorkshire Press Awards.

In 2010 current prime minister David Cameron praised the campaign’s efforts to put pressure on rail bosses to step up security during a visit to the city.