Historic Stow station building saved from demolition and turned into bar in Borders village with no pub

A 173-year-old station building originally earmarked for demolition during reconstruction of the Borders Railway is being restored as a bar/kitchen in a village that has no pub.

The waiting room, ticket office and stationmaster’s house in Stow, which was due to be bulldozed to make way for parking, will also feature a cycle hub and meeting rooms.

Stow Community Trust (SCT) hopes the £844,000 development will attract visitors by train from Edinburgh mirroring the success of the re-opened railway in generating capital-bound passengers from the Borders.

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The trust is now seeking a tenant to run the bar and eatery, which could operate as a temporary pop-up business to enable it to open during the summer.

Stow station was originally not due to be re-opened as part of the Borders Railway project. Picture: The Scotsman

The 700-population village has lost all three of its hotels and bars over the years and only has a part-time cafe.

The planned opening of the rest of the complex by September would complete a remarkable change of fortune for the building, which was built in 1848 and converted into two houses after the Edinburgh-Carlisle railway closed in 1969.

One of the only two surviving original station buildings on the route, along with Gorebridge, it had long been derelict when the line was reopened in 2015.

The station was not part of original plans for the revived line between Edinburgh and Tweedbank, but was added after a local campaign.

Stow Community Trust chair Helen Corcoran hopes the building will become both a village hub and visitor draw. Picture: The Scotsman

Campaign for Borders Rail secretary Nick Bethune said: "Around 2009-10, before the railway had been given the go-ahead, preliminary engineering drawings showed the buildings were to be demolished and the site used for car parking.

"Detailed design hadn't started, so there was a narrow window of opportunity to make the case for keeping the buildings.

"I felt the station house had enormous charm and character it would be a tragedy to lose.

"There are so many good examples across Britain of old railway buildings being brought back to life in ways that benefit the local community and draw more passengers to the railway.

"Drawing on my experience as an architect, I was able to produce an alternative site layout that showed it was possible to retain the building and fit in the required number of parking spaces around it.

"It has taken a huge amount of further work by many people to turn that initial opportunity into the fantastic community asset that we see today.”

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SCT chair Helen Corcoran hoped the building will become both a village hub and new destination for visitors.

Stow villager Trevor Corcoran in one of the station meeting rooms. Picture: Stow Community Trust

The 50-seat eatery has been created by extending the L-shaped building into a rectangle.

Its walls feature digital prints by Stow-based artist Andrew Mackenzie of trees and a footbridge at Brunstane, further up the line.

The bike hub will include cycle hire and a repair workshop.

Mrs Corcoran said: "This is the catalyst to change the direction of Stow

“We want to encourage more people back onto the railway for leisure.

"It has been strongly used for commuting into Edinburgh, but not leisure traffic out from the city.”

Stow Community Trust chair Helen Corcoran at the station building's main door. Picture: The Scotsman

Funding for the project has included from the Borders Railway Blueprint Programme and the Railway Heritage Trust.

Trust executive director Andy Savage said: “We congratulate the SCT on the effort they have put into the restoration, the high quality of work and the way the new work matches and blends in with the original structure.”

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The bar/kitchen will be housed in the green extension the station building. Picture: The Scotsman
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