The Official Tourism Website for Herefordshire

Excellence on Track for Rowden Mill Station.

We are delighted to share news with you about ESL Member Rowden Mill Station winning the ‘National Highways Award for Restoration on a Closed Line‘ at the National Railway Heritage Awards ceremony, in Merchant Taylor’s Hall, Threadneedle Street Central London on Wednesday 6 December 2023.

Paul Kirwan and Cecilia Chavez-Brandon were presented with the plaque commemorating the award by Bill Reeve Director of Rail for Transport Scotland, Andy Savage MBE Chairman of the NRHA and Helene Rossiter from the National Highways Historical Railways Estate.

rowden award

The category sponsored by National Highways highlights bringing back into sustainable use a building or structure no longer owned by the railway industry.

There were 50 entries to the awards this year from across all four nations of the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. The applicants ranged from community groups and private individuals to companies as well as public authorities and train operators. They varied in size and scope and were judged in this competition across 10 award categories.

Paul and Cecilia are absolutely delighted to be recognised from an impressive group of fellow shortlisted nominees and would like to thank the NRHA judges, the trustees and patrons, the adjudicating committee and all the ceremony organisers.

In 2017, Cecilia and Paul took over the station at Rowden Mill, near Bromyard and began immediately working to refurbish it to operate as a holiday letting business, making the station buildings available as accommodation to visiting guests. Saloon Coach DB 999508 arrived in October 2020 from the West Somerset Railway for conversion and preservation at Rowden Mill Station situated at the former livestock platform. After 21 months of painstaking work, the railway carriage was launched as further accommodation for holidaying guests in July 2022.

In parallel with these works Paul and Cecilia continue with the maintenance of the station buildings and all railway infrastructure on site (platform trolley, GWR lamp posts, running-in boards, poster boards, railway signals, ground frame and its hut, and around 250 meters of permanent way). In the pipeline, there is the conversion of the GWR brake van No.35251 into a 2-person accommodation space, for which they are hoping to complete sometime in 2024.

The station opened 1September 1897 as part of the final section of the Worcester, Bromyard and Leominster Railway which had been bought out of bankruptcy by the Great Western Railway in 1888, who completed the line in 1897. Unstaffed as a station from September 1949, the line closed to regular passenger services on 15th September, 1952. On 26 April 1958 a special train organised by the Stephenson Locomotive Society ran from Worcester via Bromyard to Leominster, calling in at Rowden Mill, Fencote and Steens Bridge. The 50 society members/passengers rode on the last train that would run on the complete track before it was removed.

After closure, Rowden Mill Station was sold into private ownership and became part of a farm holding before being found in 1984 by the Wilkinson family who restored the site from derelict using original GWR plans and photographs from when the station was in operation. Thirty four years ago, in March 1989, Rowden Mill received the ‘Ian Allan, Railway Heritage Award’ for the Best Renovated Non-Working station.

At Rowden Mill Station apart from being an accommodation provider that contributes to the visitor economy in Herefordshire, Cecilia and Paul are caretakers of railway heritage and it is in this latter capacity that they are so proud of this achievement.

To share this with their community, there will be an unveiling of the plaque at a future date. Congratulations to you both on this accolade and well done for all your hard work.

Find out more about Rowden Mill Station here.