Behind the rapidly crumbling facade of Goodwick Station, there’s much study and discussion going on, and we’re starting to get hints of possible outcomes.
The fate of Goodwick Station, the original terminus of the Fishguard Line, contains two linked challenges: reopening to create an accessible station for the new rail service; and rescuing the historic station buildings. Does the second challenge get in the way of the first, or could it enhance it?
Fishguard Trains has now spoken with several players in County Hall and elsewhere, and these are our best guesses at how matters stand.
The station building is “a lost cause”. It is being “held up by buddleia bushes” and roofing felt is blowing on to the track: “The next big wind could see the building falling on to the railway”. Structural engineers have condemned the derelict ruins, which are now a problem for the demolition experts. There’s little support for the idea that anything remains which could be salvaged for Scolton.
Demolition will proceed even though it breaches Pembrokeshire CC’s own Policy 80, which only allows a building in a conservation area to be demolished if it makes no contribution to the character or appearance of the area, AND if there are approved proposals for reuse of the site. Goodwick Station meets neither condition, but demolition will still proceed on grounds of public safety – the station is dangerous. Safety trumps conservation.
But while the building will come down, and with it a part of our community’s history, there is clearly support at County Hall for the idea that effort is needed to build something worthwhile in its place. The talk there is of replacing it not with a “bus shelter” but of a well-designed replacement: “I hope it can be replicated, and affordably, to make it back into the station it was” is one officer’s remarkably upbeat comment to Fishguard Trains.
All of which leads to the finance question. With feasibility studies reporting back in the next few weeks, firm figures will soon be on the table, but the project is already seen as “very expensive”. Pembrokeshire County Council was, like everyone else, caught unprepared by the Welsh Government announcement, and has no budget for any works in this financial year. Welsh Government has been asked for station funds to support their surprise funding for the rail service, but without success. So Pembrokeshire “can only consider it at the expense of other projects”.
This seems like the kiss of death even for a bus shelter, let alone a quality replacement station. Yet officers remain supportive: “We want to reopen it, there’s no doubt about that. Trains at the Harbour won’t be as well patronised. There’s a keenness throughout our region.”
And by September 12th? A pause for thought, then, “I don’t think September 12th is practically possible”.
Fishguard Trains chances a prediction: Pembrokeshire CC will now search for any current projects that can be rolled into next financial year (with fewest political repercussions), to fund a platform and simple shelter that will go up some time this winter, and then plan a permanent replacement for the station that is about to disappear.