Alton Station was built from 1849. Part of the Churnet Valley branch line for the North Staffordshire Railway, the Italianate-style building became the gateway to the popular garden attractions of Alton Towers. Facing decline through the 20th century, the station finally closed in 1965 - the same year Sir John and Lady Christian Smith founded the Landmark Trust.
We took on the station together with its Station Master’s House in 1972. Initially we restored just the house, before incorporating the whole site into a single Landmark for up to eight guests in 2008.
Fourteen years on, we have just completed fresh conservation works and upgraded access, furniture and storage arrangements. All changes have been closely based on customer feedback and observations from colleagues across the organisation, particularly including surveyor Stuart Leavy, regional manager Jo Quinby and Alton's housekeeping team.
One of the glories of the station building is its original Minton floor tiles. Minton was perhaps the most iconic manufacturer of the Victorian era, the stylistic geometric tiles popular in residential and commercial properties across Britain and exported internationally. After 170-odd years of wear, specialists including Lesley Durbin of Jackfield Conservation Studio, Richard Wilshaw of the Firing Line, Winkhill Mill in Stoke on Trent and Mike Rieverley of Rieverley Ceramics have surveyed, repaired and, as necessary, replaced tiles throughout the Waiting Room. Watch the videos below to meet the team and see their careful conservation work unfold.
Improvements across the site include a new gateway, crafted by joiner Mark Smitten and joinery apprentice Rose Andrews and created to enable easier access from the parking area down to the platform. Thanks to contractor Brown and Earnshaw of Derby, we’ve also redecorated throughout. Inside the Station Master’s House, the former sitting room has become a reflective library space and we have introduced new facilities for making hot drinks or preparing snacks.
Inside the station, we have introduced new comfortable sofas and armchairs into the former Waiting Room, adding feet to the ticket barrier and repositioning the dining table to do so. A new shower in the former Lamp or Porters’ Room enables leveller access, with new shelving and a replacement fridge in today’s kitchen, once the Ladies Waiting Room.
A popular Landmark for approaching 50 years, we hope the conservation work and revamped arrangements will offer both interest and comfort for the generations of Landmarkers to come. See new photographs of the full transformation or book a break from here.
Conservation in action part 1: Specialist Victorian tile conservation
Part 2: ‘Near-perfect’ conclusion to Victorian tile repair project and improving accessibility