Just the ticket for romantics

Searching for somewhere to bring up your own railway children? Look no further than an old station house

QUAINT rural railway stations are a stock feature of film and television evoking an idyllic English past. That's the picture postcard image. But the Beeching era and subsequent decades saw many of these stations become redundant. Some were snapped up by sharp-eyed buyers with vision who converted them into covetable homes. Others fell into disrepair or were taken over for commercial use.

These buildings are now in growing demand as homes as the supply is not as plentiful as it was. Railtrack, which owns the track network and signalling, says it still has some such properties, but the company tends to be interested in their commercial uses as workshops or offices. Ken Burgess, the marketing manager, said: "We do have some that have received planning permission specifically for residential use, but they are the exception rather than the rule."

One property on Railtrack's books was built in 1860 and is Grade II listed. However, prospective residents should bear in mind that, like many of Railtrack's properties, it is available for rent rather than sale, and requires an electricity supply which must be installed at the tenant's cost. New tenants will also often be required to pay a contribution towards documentation and surveyors' costs.

Apart from station houses, properties such as former stationmasters' homes can be available. Some stations had accommodation on their upper floors, but in many others there was a decent-sized semi-detached or detached master's home nearby.

Railway Property Limited is now the body that acts as agent for redundant properties for sale. "We have operated a very successful sales scheme, so properties of this sort are becoming more rare," said Alan Pett, estate manager. Prices vary according to the property's location, its condition - which often depends on what it has been used for since it was closed - and factors such as whether it is listed.

RPL advertises locally, and nationally in Estates Gazette or Property Week. Other ways of tracking down these properties include keeping an eye open for sales boards or contacting auctioneers that may keep lists of clients searching for particular properties.

These houses, unlike many older properties, have perhaps not suffered as much of the enthusiastic removal of original features over the years. Mr Pett said: "The Shorthold Tenancy Act of 1988 helped in the retention of character as it meant that a viable rent could be charged and helped promote domestic use of the buildings. The retention of original features was often a key element of this."

It can be all a matter of luck. Marlene Kenworthy and Andrew Prill, her partner, bought a station-master's house several years ago. The house still has an original enamelled bath, and their sitting room features the old railway cupboards with LNWR (London North Western Railways) on the handles and hinges.

The rest of the house had, sadly, largely been gutted. "It really is a crying shame what happened over the years. The original fireplaces, for example, were all taken out," says Ms Kenworthy. "However, on the plus side it is a good-sized detached house, and we felt it had potential at a good price."

One feature the house does have may be hard to beat. The view from the back of the house is over the very platform where Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard played out some of their poignant scenes in the film Brief Encounter.

If you have no time or inclination for restoration yet still yearn for a railway-linked property, you can simply try to locate one as it comes on to the market after restoration and is sold through the usual estate agent channels - but expect to pay more this way.

You don't necessarily have to be looking for a large home. Bairstow Eves, the estate agent, is selling a one-bedroom flat in a station building that now houses four converted flats near Lancaster. Trains still run by the building. For some buyers this is an advantage, but others can be put off, chiefly on grounds of noise. However, in many cases trains run on a limited service.

John Jenkins bought his former station house in Kent for a very modest outlay. "No-one else seemed to want to buy it, mainly because trains still run past the property. In fact, there are only four trains a day, which is no big deal." In the case of the converted flats near Lancaster, only three trains pass the property each day.

There are also plenty of cottages that were first built to house those who worked on the railways. There were far more of these workers than there were stationmasters, so the chances of finding one of these smaller cottage properties are much higher.

q Contacts: Bairstow Eves, 01524 733418; Railtrack, 0800 830840; Rail Property Ltd, 01717 904 5100.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Saunders stars as Miss Windsor, Dennis's hysterical French teacher
filmJennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Voices
Jimmy Mubenga died after being restrained on an aircraft by G4S escorts
voicesJonathan Cox: Tragedy of Jimmy Mubenga highlights lack of dignity shown to migrants
Life and Style
Sebastian Siemiatkowski is the 33-year-old co-founder and CEO of Klarna, which provides a simple way for people to buy things online
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

Ashdown Group: Direct Marketing Manager - B2C, Financial Services - Slough

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: An exciting opportunity h...

Carlton Senior Appointments: Sr Wealth Manager - San Francisco - Inv AdvisoryFirm

$125 - $175 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: Senior Wealth Manager – In...

Carlton Senior Appointments: Private Banking Manager - Intl Bank - Los Angeles

$200 - $350 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: Managing Producer – Office...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum