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Students’ Union’s historic home wins heritage award

Date 24.11.2021

A plaque has been unveiled at the University of Northampton to celebrate the award-winning restoration of an historic building.

Home to the Students’ Union, the Engine Shed is a Grade-II listed former railway building that was brought back from dereliction when it was restored by the University in preparation for its move to Waterside campus in 2018.

The careful restoration saw the project named the overall winner of the National Railway Heritage Awards (NRHA) 2020. On Tuesday 14 September, representatives from the University and the NRHA gathered for the plaque unveiling, which was delayed for a year by the pandemic.

Built by Midland Railway, the building dates back to 1873 and was originally used for the stabling and maintenance of locomotives operating on the line to Bedford. Taken out of use in 1921, the shed was used for various railway purposes up to 1998, when it was finally shut. Badly damaged by arson in 2000, the shed fell into disrepair until the University breathed new life into it, and an associated office building that was converted into a post room.

An NRHA spokesperson, said: “This is the project that has everything, with a brilliant restoration of both buildings, giving them both long-term sustainable uses, putting them in a really good setting and going the extra mile for heritage, again and again.”

University Project Manager, Simon Badcock, who oversaw the restoration, said: “The Engine Shed and nearby office were on the verge of collapse when the University started on the journey to our new Waterside campus.

“We were delighted that, as a part of this larger project, we could save this important historic local building and bring it back into use for the benefit of our students and the wider community.

“The standard of the restoration carried out is second to none and we are very proud to receive recognition for the efforts of the team involved in this project from the National Railway Heritage Awards.”

The restoration of the Engine Shed was jointly funded by the University and a £1.3m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.