South Western Railway (SWR) is refurbishing the iconic Art Deco Richmond station in South West London.
A targeted programme of improvements at the station is underway, which includes cleaning the Portland stone façade, repairing the timber entrance doors and polishing its bronze work, repairing flagpoles and refurbishing customer toilets.
The £325,000 package of work, funded by SWR, Network Rail and the Railway Heritage Trust, is a small part of what is hoped to be a larger project to restore the station to its former glory.
Richmond station was designed by Southern Railway architects in 1936 under the direction of James Robb Scott, best known for his redesign of London Waterloo between 1910 and 1923. He also designed the striking Wimbledon and Surbiton stations on the SWR network, the latter of which recently celebrated 40 years since becoming a Grade II listed building.
Richmond’s Art Deco style is likely to have been inspired by the work of Charles Holden, the architect behind London Underground stations including South Wimbledon on the Northern line. His designs included multi-frame glazing, enamelled signage panels, the use of an iconic typeface for signage and brick and tile detailing.
Similar features at Richmond have been lost or covered up over time, including in the station’s last major refurbishment in 1985. SWR and the Railway Heritage Trust have worked with Benedict O’Looney Architects on designs that include restoring or replicating those features, and others, in future improvements.
Paying close attention to detail, the station’s original, hand-drawn plans are being used together with promotional photographs from when the station first opened its doors to customers. Samples of the station’s original paint are also being analysed by the University of Lincoln, specialists in the conservation and restoration of the interior and exterior features of listed and historic buildings.
What is hoped to be the first of many improvements, subject to additional funding being made available, is expected to be finished by the end of the year. The door repairs and bronze work and façade cleaning are expected to be completed this month, while the refurbishment of the toilets should be finished by December.
David Wilby, South Western Railway’s Regional Development Manager for the Metro area, said: “Richmond station is a fantastic example of the eye-catching Art Deco style that can be seen on this part of our network. We are delighted to kick off this project, working closely with all our partners, and can’t wait for our customers to see the revitalised station entrance.
“We’ve already made great progress on the timber entrance doors, including their Art Deco metal detailing, while the façade has also been cleaned in recent weeks. These are just the first of many original features we’re keen to see brought back to life.
“We appreciate our customers’ patience while work is carried out and it’s our hope that we can find the funding we need for future phases.”
Tim Hedley-Jones, Executive Director of the Railway Heritage Trust, said: “We are delighted to be working with South Western Railway on the restoration of Richmond station to help return it to its former 1930s glory.
“It has some beautiful features that have been lost or hidden over the years. We are very pleased that, once again, these will be enjoyed by rail passengers and the local community.”
Peter, Lord Hendy of Richmond Hill, Chair of Network Rail, said: “It’s great to be working with South Western Railway and the Railway Heritage Trust on such a brilliant project that will sympathetically restore Richmond station to its former glory.
“The investment at this key transport hub will provide a focus for regenerating the town centre, and give railway customers a more welcoming feel as they pass through the station where they will experience its vibrant original Art Deco design.”
Councillor Gareth Roberts, Leader of Richmond Council, said: “The planned renovation works will have a transformative impact on Richmond station, helping it to better serve commuters in the borough. Residents will be able to benefit from modernised toilets and repaired entrance doors whilst enjoying the restoration of some of the station’s historic Art Deco features.
“Maintaining the borough’s sustainable travel network is key to the borough’s wider economic recovery. These works at Richmond station are one of the many ways our transport network is being improved to build a safer, more convenient borough for all residents.”
Photo credit: South Western Railway