Kilmarnock Station's major revamp trailblazes regeneration of disused rail buildings across Scotland

A largely boarded-up station has been transformed into a trailblazing multi-purpose community enterprise that is helping to breathe new life into redundant rail buildings elsewhere in Scotland.

The overhaul has enabled Kilmarnock Station to regain its past status as a hub of the East Ayrshire town which includes a bakery, cafe, model and book shops, walking and cycling advice centre and rail archive.

The Kilmarnock Station Railway Heritage Trust has progressively transformed 18 disused rooms in the complex over the last seven years.

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It also offers a wide range of mental health and addiction counselling services there that help up to 1,000 people a year and provide training for dozens of University Of Strathclyde students.

Kilmarnock Station Railway Heritage Trust development manager Allan Brown said its work had also been the catalyst for the overhaul of other parts of the station. Picture: KSRHT

Now the biggest such operation on the Scottish rail network is spreading its wings to help regenerate other abandoned station buildings.

It has assisted local police inspector John Deans launch a karate studio at Saltcoats Station which is used by ten clubs, and with the launch of a cafe at New Cumnock Station.

The trust is also involved with plans for a military veterans’ centre at Garelochhead Station and finding a new use for buildings at Dumfries Station.

Trust development manager Allan Brown was inspired to launch the Kilmarnock scheme when he noticed the 1877-built station’s empty buildings while working with Laura Yetton, the trust’s project co-ordinator, at addiction charity Addaction, now We Are With You.

Some of the rooms restored by the Kilmarnock Station Railway Heritage Trust. Picture: KSRHT

He said the station offered a discreet haven for those seeking support from the service when people previously had to ring a buzzer at its former premises in full view of a coffee shop opposite.

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Mr Brown is also hugely proud that all the initiatives at the station have a non-commercial side, such as the cafe and bakery providing training and the model shop offering free model-making classes.

He said the work had also been a catalyst for the station’s roof being overhauled and its dingy underpass refurbished.

A room used for book sales and activities such as yoga classes. Picture: KSRHT

Mr Brown said: "Previously, if someone had missed their train they would go back into town rather than wait in the station, which was boarded up and did not feel safe.

"It’s been a monumental effort, but demonstrates how a community can provide services for itself, as this is a prime example of it working in practice.

"I’m very passionate about the fact we have done it all from scratch and transformed one of the main access points to the town – we have made the railway station the hub it used to be.”

Andy Savage, executive director of the London-based Railway Heritage Trust, which has provided grants totalling £750,000 to help fund the transformation, said: “The project has been one of my great pleasures over my 11 years at the trust.

Kilmarnock Station

"We have been able to repeatedly support Allan Brown and his colleagues as they have restored room after room in the station, and have been delighted at the vast range of uses that Allan has brought into the station.

“At the same time, we have seen Network Rail and ScotRail upgrade the public areas of the station so the whole station is much more welcoming and accessible,.

"But it is Allan’s work in making it a community hub that gives us most pleasure - we are so glad to have been able to help him through this journey.”

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