Building contractors preparing for a major refurbishment of Bishopstone station have unearthed an astounding collection of objects from the last 30 years.
Workers at the Grade II-listed station pulled up the wooden shutters of the old parcel office, which had lain unopened for over 30 years, and found the space behind jammed full of vintage junk.
The hoard included 1970s car parts, fishing rods, rowing oars, British Rail advertising posters (too tatty to be of monetary value), a sack of fertilizer, and two spectacular vintage wooden water skis (not a pair!), possibly from the 1950s. There were also a 1950s ‘automotive electrical equipment tester’ and a 1980s skateboard.
Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) is restoring Bishopstone station, with architectural guidance and financial support from the Railway Heritage Trust, as part of its network-wide, multimillion-pound station improvement programme. The train company has worked with the Friends of Bishopstone Station (FOBS) and the Southeast Communities Rail Partnership (SCRP) to develop detailed plans to refurbish the unusual octagonal booking hall.
The refurbishment plans include transforming the old parcel office into a community space that FOBS can let out to local groups.
GTR has agreed to donate any proceeds from the sale of ‘the Bishopstone Bric-a-brac Hoard’ to the Friends. The most saleable items are thought to be the car parts, in particular a box of rubber tubes, still in demand for spares and repairs.
However, one item won’t be sold, a teddy bear that workers have dubbed ‘Fobsy’.
Barbara Mine, chairman and founder member of FOBS, said: “”It was surprising that anything was hidden away and forgotten for so long, let alone such a strange collection of objects. But there are some sellable items, especially the car parts, and we’re very grateful to GTR for donating any proceeds to the Friends.
“We’re looking forward to working alongside GTR as the station improvements progress.”
Station manager Andy Gardner said: “The station was built to serve a new housing development that never happened because of the Second World War. It has been underused ever since, so it’s great to be working with SCRP, the Friends and the Railway Heritage Trust to help this architectural gem achieve its potential as a community asset.”
Bishopstone’s Second World War heritage is there for all to see, as the station was built with pillboxes on the roof!