We’re just about to start work on the refurbishment of the canopy covering the station so now seems an ideal time to look at how the building has survived throughout the years.
Now 131 years old the canopy structure is showing signs of wear and tear but there is certainly not as much deterioration as shown here. We’re not sure of the date of this image but it is possibly the late 1970’s.
Image copyright: Press and Journal
After the railway closed in 1952 the station became mainly a coal depot until the early 1970s. There was also an upholsterer’s workshop in one of the units. There are memories from people who worked with the coal merchant of coal being stored inside the building, towards the far end where the waiting room used to be.
We think it was during the winter of 1978 one bay of the canopy collapsed due to the weight of snow lying on the roof. This is directly outside where the station master’s office and the waiting room would have been. You can see more clearly here how much the building has deteriorated.
Image courtesy of John Rich.
The canopy was renovated in the late 70s and by this time it was owned by Highland Regional Council. Local woodcarver Alistair Brebner remembers the renovations being carried out by James Reid & Sons of Dingwall.
As you can see here by the images it looks like the wood panelling on the exterior of the building has been stripped back and replaced. It also looks like the roof of the building has been re-slated. The building was white in colour before the refurb and then painted red.
The exterior of the building along the platform and under the canopy.
The slates were replaced on the roof however we are unsure as the whether the timber was replaced.
A full view of the station building and canopy during the refurbishment.
Several pieces of the canopy had to be reproduced as some pieces were missing. The bay that was replaced certainly had the wrought ironwork reproduced from images taken of the original work. You can see here the difference in detail between bay 1 and bay 2.
Details of column in Bay 2. Details of column in Bay 1.
A close up of the arches above the pillars in Bay 2.
A close up of the arch in Bay 1 which is you can see has less detail.
Bay 1 which was replaced is also the only bay to have cross bracing which would have been added when it was re-built in the late 70s.
Cross bay in Bay 1 which we think was installed to create more strength.
By 1974 records show that there were proposals to turn the station into an interpretative railway museum. However, it became Strathpeffer Craft and Visitor Centre instead in 1980 and housed a cinema and shops
Allister also remembers that under the station building was a void that was deep enough for people to stand up. There have been a few stories about a tunnel under the building which could be accessed from an opening in the ladies toilet floor. However it caused some concerns about safety so in the mid -1980s the entire flooring was taken up and the void was filled with rubble and concrete.
When the current refurbishment works are taking place we will post regular updates on our Facebook page