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Supporters pledge to help restore fire-hit Victorian rail station

PUBLISHED: 17:29 13 February 2018 | UPDATED: 17:29 13 February 2018

Drone footage of Saxmundham railway station fire. Picture: SKYNAMIX

Drone footage of Saxmundham railway station fire. Picture: SKYNAMIX

Archant

The team behind an arts project at an east Suffolk railway station this week devastated by a huge fire has pledged to work with Greater Anglia to see if the building can be restored.

Firefighters tackle a blaze at Saxmundham train station.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN Firefighters tackle a blaze at Saxmundham train station. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Experts will assess the state of the Victorian property at Saxmundham as soon as possible to see whether it can be repaired – and how much it will cost.

Six fire crews spent more than two hours battling the blaze on Monday afternoon.

Trains were brought to a standstill as the firefighters worked but yesterday Greater Anglia said all services were calling at the station as normal.

A spokeswoman for Saxmundham Town Council said: “The town council are deeply saddened by the massive fire at our railway station particularly as the Art Station have been working so hard with their project to transform it.”

Firefighters tackle a blaze at Saxmundham train station.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN Firefighters tackle a blaze at Saxmundham train station. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Organisers of the Art Station project took on the building last year and had been aiming to raise £1.5million to transform it into a centre featuring a waiting area for passengers, contemporary art exhibition promoting high quality art and artists, art education programme, garden café, and volunteering and training opportunities for under-represented groups.

A spokeswoman said yesterday: “Understandably, everyone at The Art Station has been devastated and it has taken time for the enormity of the impact of the fire to sink in.

“Although we were at the very beginning of our journey to transform the disused station building at Saxmundham, we were very excited by our plans to breathe life into an iconic town building to offer contemporary art and an arts education programme after it had been uninhabited for at least five years.

“Only last week we held a fundraising quiz as part of our fundraising programme to raise money to start making the building safe in the summer.

“Since obtaining a short lease in August 2017, we were looking forward to stripping the building out and getting in to the main building in September after agreeing terms with the landlord Greater Anglia.

“The fire will obviously pose a significant risk to the future of The Art Station’s ambitions but we will work with Greater Anglia and the local authorities to identify if there is a possibility of saving the building and restoring it to its former glory.”

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