Dave Harvie and Dumbarton Central Station which is the subject of an ambitious new project. Pictures by John Kelenfoldi, Arthur Jones and Bill Heaney

By Democrat reporter

Dumbarton Stations Improvement Trust has commissioned one of Scotland’s foremost conservation architects, Lesley Kerr, and her team of five specialist consultants, to produce a Conservation Management Plan for Dumbarton Central Station – one of only 12 ‘A’-listed stations in Scotland

This project has arisen after many years of growing public concern for the deteriorating condition of the structure, and its poor impact on locals and visitors alike. Despite these negative factors, passenger numbers are steadily increasing, and over a million journeys a year are currently generated.

The project – supported by both Network Rail and Scotrail/Abellio – is being funded by West Dunbartonshire Council in a progressive move which is reflected in the Council’s proposals for a Town Centre Conservation Area, which will include the Station on its northern boundary.

The present commission follows from a preliminary Scoping Report of 2014 for Silverton & Overtoun Community Council (also funded by West Dunbartonshire Council).

The Plan will examine in some detail the history and current condition of the structure and propose a number of costed options for repair, renovation and reconstruction, with a particular interest in opening up long-disused areas of the undercoft for community and other users.

Many locals may not remember the former entrance to the Station, under the Townend Road bridge, or the wide, tiled staircases which led to the platforms; indeed, over a century ago behind those bricked-up and cemented gothic window-openings there were three restaurants serving the needs of workmen, families and wedding parties.

Numerous issues have already revealed themselves as significant. Critically, but inevitably longer-term, there is the necessity of stopping the severe water ingress which is leading to damage to the steel structure of the bridge and the stonework of the entire building. Could a re-opening of the original entrance, with lifts, stairs and a bigger ticket office serving both platforms be possible?

Access to the platforms is solely by long, steep ramps which are a severe difficulty for many people, not least the elderly and disabled; and the nearby public realm, and better linkages to other parts of the town centre and the proposed riverside walkway are important issues to be considered; bigger proposals can be accompanied by smaller, more quickly achieved changes to create a station of which we can all be proud, and which also enables an improved railway.

The completed Plan will be available to Network Rail, Scotrail, The Railway Heritage Trust, Historic Environment Scotland and other stakeholders and potential funders, and should offer a progressive ‘route-map’ for coherent future action.

As part of the commission, a public consultation event will be held for two weeks beginning on 14th January at Dumbarton Library, at which members of the public can engage with some of the potential options – and offer their reactions and comments; there will be social media and on-line elements, and the project team will welcome memories of the station from the public, and any relevant photographs or artefacts relating to Dumbarton Central which may be lent will be carefully examined and if appropriate, copied and acknowledged.

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