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Words: Sarah Winstanley
Photography: Courtesy of R Longstaff and Co
Featured in the February 2011 issue

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The Station House, Moulton, near Spalding is a family home of great character and charm and Sarah Winstanley tells its fascinating story.

When Judith and Christopher Smith first saw the old railway station at Moulton, it took great foresight to imagine the derelict buildings could ever be their home.

But they immediately fell in love with the place and set about transforming it into a very comfortable family home whilst retaining some of the character of the former station, like the waiting room on the upline that the couple named the Travellers’ Rest.

Now thirty-one years later, the couple have decided the time is right to downsize and have put The Station House on Station Road (of course!) on the market.

Mrs Smith said: “We adore the house and have been here so long that I’m sure it was quite a shock in the village when it went up for sale. But we are being very realistic and it’s time to move on while we are still fit and able.

“The gardens are large and we’d like somewhere with a little less work so we’re hoping to move to a smaller house in Spalding.”

When Mr and Mrs Smith bought the property, the entire station yard was owned by Mr Smith’s family firm F.H. Smith (Produce) Ltd and was the site of a potato grading station. Sadly the firm was sold out and the couple, who were living in Harrox Road in the village with their two children Campbell (now 40) and Rebecca (now 38), decided to buy the house and the land.

Mrs Smith recalled the night they decided to buy the property. She said: “We came back from a party, looked over the fence at the derelict buildings and Chris said ‘shall we make a home of it?’ and I said ‘yes’.

“The place was a shambles and absolutely derelict but the minute we walked into the building it felt like home. It had the most amazing feeling, like it was meant to be.”

The village railway station, which opened in 1893, had formed part of the Midland and Great Northern Railway (often referred to as the ‘Muddle and Go Nowhere line’). It closed for passengers in 1959 as part of the Beeching cuts (the government’s attempt to reduce the cost of running the nationalised railway system) and three years later, freight transport stopped on the line as well.

For the next seventeen years, the station with its Station Master’s House, platforms and Travellers’ Rest (one of only two on the entire branch line) were left to fall into dereliction until the Smiths decided to bring them back to life again.

Once the couple had bought the land and buildings, they employed an architect to draw up plans to make it into a family home.

The original Victorian station consisted of a single storey parcel office, a clerk’s office, ladies waiting room, gent’s toilets and kitchens with the station master’s living accommodation (a sitting room and three bedrooms) above. The buildings stood on the original platform with a Travellers’ Rest across the railway line on the opposite platform.

In the plans, the majority of the station was kept but the gent’s toilets and kitchens were in such a poor state they had to be knocked down and rebuilt as a new extension using reclaimed bricks in keeping with the old building.

Even before the building work began, the Smiths had started to transform the land into a lovely garden. Mrs Smith said: “We didn’t want two platforms running the length of the garden so we dug up part of the platform opposite the house, cut a big trench and buried the platform to make a garden.

“It was a mammoth project and took tonnes of soil to fill the trench where the rails used to be. We went to the house every day to see how the work was progressing and the kids loved it. After the soil was down, we planted hedges and laid a lawn.”

It took one year for the builders to complete the project, but Mr and Mrs Smith had to move into the house in August 1981, well before the house was finished. Mrs Smith said: “We had to move out of our other house and so we practically lived with the builders.

“It was in the days when the summers were good. We camped outside – we had a camping stove, a cold tap and one electric light but even then, it felt like home.”

Finally at the end of 1981, the family moved into their new home with its then-fashionable avocado bathroom and handcrafted kitchen.

Mrs Smith said: “We have been here thirty years and have kept the house up to date, but we’re not the sort of people to change kitchens and bathrooms every five minutes.”

Over the years, the Smiths have run the house as a bed and breakfast and also opened their gardens to the public. Mrs Smith added: “We’ve had some lovely people round with memories of the old station. When I did bed and breakfast, we had the son of an old station master staying with us who brought his son as well, and not so long ago we had the sister of a station master whose surname was Moulton visit us.

“When we open the gardens we get people walking up and down the platform and saying they remember carving their name in the brick work, or mothers who remember catching the train into Spalding and having to lift their pram onto the train.”

Although the Smiths have enjoyed living in one of the most historic buildings in the village, they now feel the time is right to move on.

Mrs Smith added: “We will be sad to leave but we’re firm believers that when we close one door, another one opens.

“We’re ready to start a new chapter in our lives and hope to find a family who will want to call The Station House their home. It’s the chance of a lifetime!”

• The Station House on Station Road, Moulton, near Spalding is on the market with estate agents R. Longstaff and Co., Spalding for a guide price of £550,000. For more information phone (01775) 766766.

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