June 2021 – Stow, Midlothian.

The station building at Stow has been saved from demolition and is being turned into a café/bar. The village, which has a population of around 700, has lost all three of its hotels and bars over the years and only has a part-time café. The station building is 173 years old and was originally earmarked for demolition during reconstruction of the Borders Railway but now the waiting room, ticket office and stationmaster’s house will also feature a cycle hub and meeting rooms. After the closure of the Waverley line, the station was converted into two houses. Stow Station was originally not due to be re-opened as part of the Borders Railway project but local campaigners fought successfully for its reinstatement. The station building is one of only two surviving original structures on the route, the other being Gorebridge, and had long been derelict when the line reopened in 2015.

Stow Community Trust (SCT) hopes the £844,000 development will attract visitors by train from Edinburgh mirroring the success of the re-opened railway in generating capital-bound passengers from the Borders. The Trust is now seeking a tenant to run the bar and eatery. Campaign for Borders Rail Secretary Nick Bethune said: “Around 2009-10, before the railway had been given the go[1]ahead, preliminary engineering drawings showed the buildings were to be demolished and the site used for car parking. Detailed design hadn’t started, so there was a narrow window of opportunity to make the case for keeping the buildings. I felt the station house had enormous charm and character and that it would be a tragedy to lose. Drawing on my experience as an architect, I was able to produce an alternative site layout that showed it was possible to retain the building and fit in the required number of parking spaces around it. It has taken a huge amount of further work by many people to turn that initial opportunity into the fantastic community asset that we see today.” SCT Chair Helen Corcoran says: “We want to encourage more people back onto the railway for leisure. It has been strongly used for commuting into Edinburgh, but not leisure traffic out from the city.” Funding for the project has included money from the Borders Railway Blueprint Programme and the Railway Heritage Trust. (The Scotsman, Forgotten Relics)