Ambitious plans for historic site

AN EYESORE: Derek Blake, Geoffrey Bray, Keith Mison and Keith Haisman outside the station master's house.
AN EYESORE: Derek Blake, Geoffrey Bray, Keith Mison and Keith Haisman outside the station master's house.

Plans have been submitted to renovate the old station master’s house at Clare Castle Country Park and turn it into a more attractive asset.

The application has been made by Suffolk County Council to make alterations to the Grade II-listed house, turning it into a two-storey residential property, an office and an education centre.

In October 2010, the county council decided it wanted to pass over the management of the park to someone else, leading to Clare Town Council putting in a proposal.

More than three years on, any arrangement has still to be formalised, but the renovation of the building – which originally consisted of a station master’s house, waiting room and ticket office – would enable it to be rented out to raise money that could then be put back into the future upkeep of the park once it is handed over to the new stewards.

Should the town council’s bid to manage the park be formally approved, a committee of trustees would take charge of running the park.

Geoffrey Bray, who would be chairman of the trustees, said: “What we want to do is turn it back into what it was really like in Victorian times.

“We want to make the station master’s house as it was, obviously not completely as it was because people would rather have more up-to-date facilities.”

Design and property consultants Concertus has been engaged by the county council to manage the project, which Mr Bray said would take about 12 to 13 weeks to complete and cost in excess of £100,000.

“The building and the park have been somewhat neglected over the years and it’s in a pretty dilapidated condition,” he said.

“The main thing is to get the structure in a situation where it’s weather-proof and we can then decide what we are going to do with the other parts of the inside of the building in due course.”

Clare station was closed in 1967 but the house, platform and goods shed still remain.

Mr Bray added: “The people of Clare are very interested in the park as a whole and, frankly, the building is an eyesore at the moment.

“So it needs to be restored for whatever purpose to make the park look better.

“Suffolk County Council and English Heritage spent a lot of money last year on restoring the castle and we want to make sure the rest of the park is in good condition and equal to the standards of the castle.”

The application is now in a period of consultation and can be viewed at