Preston station’s historic glazing gets identical looking modern replacement

A major restoration project on Preston station’s glazed frontage is complete making it safe and reliable for passengers on the West Coast main line.

The £600,000 Great North Rail Project investment has seen the North side of the 140-year-old station transformed with new glazing and a specially designed window frame system.

Last upgraded in the 1960s, the wooden frames on the listed building were badly rotten making panes of glass vulnerable to falling out in bad weather.

Working closely with conservation experts, the wood has been replaced with an identical looking modern aluminium frame, and poly-carbonate windowpanes have been installed.

This means the side of the roof – known as a gable end – will need much less maintenance in future and will make the modern glazing safe and secure for decades to come.

Carl Simpson, scheme project manager for Network Rail, said: “Preston Station is one of the jewels in the North West railway’s crown, so we had to get new gable end looking identical to how it was originally. The wooden-frames and glass were in a sorry state and needed a 21st century solution to fix a 19th century problem.

“We worked closely with Preston City Council’s conservation officer to make sure our upgrade was spot on. We’re glad they could see the benefit in changing from wood to aluminium, and from glass to poly-carbonate, so this Great North Rail Project investment could secure the station frontage for passengers and people in Preston for years to come.”

Work to replace the ‘gable end’ was challenging as it is 14 metres above several tracks on the West Coast main line – one of Europe’s busiest mixed-use passenger and freight railway lines.

A massive 150-tonne scaffolding structure was built in just 36 hours when the railway was closed over Christmas 2019.

This meant engineers could carry out work safely above the 25,000 volt overhead power lines which power trains.

The roof upgrade was completed in 24 weeks. It saw the removal of the old ‘gable end’, designing of the replacement, repairs to the main structure and installation of the glazing system itself.

The total investment for the station, which is managed by train operator Avanti West Coast, was £600,000*. 

Shirley Ross, Avanti West Coast station manager at Preston, said: “We’re proud to have supported the refurbishment of one of the original features of Preston station and would like to thank customers for their patience during the works. Bringing this part of the roof back to its former glory has transformed the station and will enhance the experience for customers travelling to and from Preston.”

For more stories on how Network Rail manages its heritage buildings and structures click here: www.networkrail.co.uk/stories/railway-heritage

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