Press release -
Flabbergasting finds mean funds for Friends of Bishopstone Station
Contractors working for Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) have unearthed a strange hoard of abandoned objects at Bishopstone station.
The workers had started tidying up inside the station to get ready for a major refurbishment of the Grade II-listed building. As they pulled up the wooden shutters of the old parcel office, unopened for over 30 years, they had no inkling of what they were about to reveal.
The space behind the shutters was jammed full of vintage junk including 1970s car parts, fishing rods, rowing oars, British Rail advertising posters, a sack of fertilizer, and two spectacular individual vintage wooden water skis, possibly from the 1950s. Objects discovered range in age from a 1950s ‘automotive electrical equipment tester’ to a 1980s skateboard.
With architectural guidance and financial support from the Railway Heritage Trust, GTR plan to restore Bishopstone as part of its network-wide, multimillion-pound station improvement programme. The train company is developing detailed plans to refurbish the unusual octagonal booking hall, with guidance from the Friends of Bishopstone Station (FOBS). The Friends, a local group dedicated to protecting and preserving the Art Deco building, are supported by the Southeast Communities Rail Partnership (SCRP) in their work with GTR.
The refurbishment plans include transforming the old parcel office into a community space that FOBS can let out to local groups.
GTR have pledged 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.
One of the potentially valuable finds that might not be put on sale is a teddy bear, now called Fobsy.
Barbara Mine, chair 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."
Harry Sievewright, SCRP’s Community Rail Line Officer, said: “The project to regenerate Bishopstone Station has been ongoing since 2018. The old parcel office is an area we wanted to develop as a ‘social hub’ for the local community and we are grateful to both GTR and the Railway Heritage Trust for helping fund the project. It is amazing to find such interesting and rare artefacts, but not surprising in a way, as the area has been disused for such a long time. The station probably has more secrets yet to uncover.”
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.”
Notes to editors
About Southeast Communities Rail Partnership
Southeast Communities Rail Partnership, part of a nationwide movement, works to connect communities and the railway across Sussex, Kent and Surrey. See their website for more information: https://www.southeastcrp.org/
About Bishopstone station
The present station, a Grade II-listed building, opened in 1938. It was intended to be the centrepiece of a proposed residential development, for which plans were abandoned at the outbreak of the Second World War. The architect was James Robb Scott, who designed many stations in London and the south of England including Hastings, Horsham, Wimbledon and much of Waterloo. His Art Deco design for Bishopstone is said to be inspired by Arnos Grove tube station.
The main station building is symmetrical, with an octagonal central booking hall and two extended wings, one formerly housing the ticket office and parcels office, and the other a waiting room and toilets.
In 1940 two pillboxes were built on the roof of the main station building, flanking its octagonal tower. Considerable effort was made to blend these into the original structure, and they are well camouflaged.
About GTR’s wider station improvements programme
GTR’s network-wide, multimillion-pound improvement programme involves over 1,000 projects, many of which were suggested by local passenger and community groups, at more than 250 stations. While we’re working hard to achieve the punctuality and reliability our passengers rightly expect, we want them to know we are with them all the way and making their stations better places to pass through.
We’re making a vast number and range of improvements that can be described under three themes:
1. Giving many stations a better ambience by redecorating, planting and installing artwork, often with substantial input from the local community
2. Making stations provide a better experience for passengers, improving comfort and safety with waiting rooms and shelters, seating, lighting, information screens, defibrillators for public use, and accessibility schemes
3. Making stations more sustainable, with schemes such as electric vehicle charging points, facilities for cyclists, rainwater retention systems, and even bee gardens.
We’ve created dedicated web pages where passengers and local communities can get updates on what’s happening at their station. They can be found at:
For more information, contact the press office on 0203 750 2031.
Govia Thameslink Railway
Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) operates Thameslink, Great Northern, Southern and Gatwick Express services as follows:
- Thameslink – cross-London services between Bedford/Peterborough/Cambridge and Brighton/Horsham/Littlehampton/East Grinstead, and between Luton/St Albans and Sutton/Wimbledon/Rainham; plus services between London and Sevenoaks
- Great Northern – services between London and Welwyn, Hertford, Peterborough, Cambridge and King’s Lynn
- Southern – services between London and the Sussex coast (Brighton, Worthing, Eastbourne, Bognor Regis, Hastings) and parts of Surrey, Kent and Hampshire (Ashford International, Southampton, Portsmouth)
- Gatwick Express – fast, non-stop direct services between Gatwick Airport and London Victoria