AN APPEAL to restore a dilapidated 140-year-old heritage railway station has hit its initial £500,000 target.

Horsted Keynes station near Haywards Heath was in desperate need of refurbishments for its leaking roofs and rotting beams

As a result, a fundraiser was announced by The Bluebell Railway last autumn to help give the station its “sparkle back”.

The fundraiser received £513,000 in donations, with a further £30,000 of Gift Aid from HMRC expected too which will take it up to £543,000.

The Bluebell Railway says work on the first phase of restoring the station should begin in the Spring. The initial work will cover repairs to the station house and platform 5.

The railway’s appeal co-ordinator Trevor Swainson said: “What a wonderful way to start the new year. This is a late – and great – Christmas present for all the staff, volunteers and visitors to the Bluebell Railway.

“We would like to thank members, shareholders and friends of the railway who have contributed to the ‘Jewel in the Crown’ appeal to put the sparkle back into the Grade II listed 140-year-old station at Horsted Keynes.”

“The appeal is still open for anyone who wishes to contribute. The railway will provide match-funding for all donations until the end of January up to a total of £150,000.”

The Argus: The station has appeared many times on TV showsThe station has appeared many times on TV shows

Horsted Keynes station has been used by many film crews for period dramas, the latest being when it appeared in an episode of The Larkins on ITV last October. The episode featured Bradley Walsh who played Pop Larkin, leading a campaign to save the railway station from closure.

The Bluebell Railway is the oldest standard gauge railway in the UK having been started in August 1960.

It has a unique collection of locomotives and rolling stock that has been restored to service for use on trains between Sheffield Park and East Grinstead.

The Railway is staffed by 50 employed staff and over 700 volunteers who have developed unique heritage skills . The railway spans over 11 miles of Sussex countryside.

The heritage line most recently ran its “steam lights” show over Christmas where trains were draped in colourful Christmas lights.

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