This project was the vision of Ladybank Development Trust, a community trust with charitable status set up through Ladybank Community Council to improve the local community’s access to facilities and services.
The Trust adopted Ladybank Railway Station in Spring 2011 and identified the potential restoration and reuse of the buildings at Ladybank Station as a community regeneration project with the potential to offer a range of benefits: historic restoration, environmental, provision of community facilities; and to support Network Rail initiatives to improve the role and image of Ladybank Station as a key commuter and ‘green’ transport interchange hub for the North Fife area.
This project involved the restoration and conversion for community use of a dangerously derelict station building – the Laird’s Waiting Room. Ladybank Station is recognised by Historic Scotland as ‘now the oldest Scottish station surviving substantially unaltered,’ and comprises a main west block (Category A listed), an east block (Category B listed), a carriage shed and workshops (Category B listed), and the ‘Laird’s Waiting Room’ (Category B listed).
The Laird’s Waiting Room, built c.1847 is a former private waiting room and ticket office. Historically it is understood to have been erected by the owner of the local Ramornie Estate who travelled by railway and saw benefits in having a private waiting room facility and connecting it by driveway through the estate grounds to his residence. An association is also understood to have existed with the Haig family (Field Marshal Earl Douglas Haig having been a member of that family) who subsequently took ownership of Ramornie Estate in the late 1800s.
The building is a small single storey structure with droved ashlar walls, and pitched slated roof. The slated roof is hipped to the outer end and with skew gables to the south and west elevations, the latter facing the station east platform and both having ornate skewput and Jacobean finial details. By 2014, the building had reached an advanced stage of deterioration, being no longer wind and water tight and suffering a partially collapsed roof, stripped of slates, and was included in the ‘Buildings at Risk’ Register.
Working with Fife Historic Buildings Trust, works undertaken involved repair and consolidation of the masonry walls, replacement of the slate roof, replacement external doors and traditional sash and case windows, provision of a new insulated floor, and installation of electric power and heating, and water/drainage. A new interior was provided in traditional style with new ceiling and internal walls whilst retaining an existing fireplace as a feature.
In this space, Ladybank Development Trust have created a small multi-purpose community meeting room with adjoining small kitchen and disabled toilet facilities. The meeting room also houses a small interpretative display relating to the Ladybank community, the railway, and links to Ramornie Estate.
Supporting StatementThis project showcases:
• Imagination from a small local community development trust, who had the vision to see how a derelict building could be restored and make a contribution to village life. Through Ladybank Development Trust, the community played a leading role throughout this project – securing funding, working with Fife Historic Buildings Trust and with the architect and now in establishing and operating the completed facility.
• Perseverance, planning and partnership working: the project had a long gestation period to raise the funding and establish agreement with railway partners Network Rail and ScotRail. The necessarily complex constraints of a mainline railway station gave a challenging context to developing and delivering the project. Unavoidable delays in the contract programme were incurred due to swallows, a statutorily protected bird species, nesting in the roof space of the building soon after site works commenced, and which could not be disturbed until their young had fledged. Once the building was wind and watertight, further delays were encountered as the fabric was suffering from considerable residual dampness – a legacy of its many years of roofless dereliction – and required time to dry out before internal works could be progressed.
• Successful sustainable re-use of an existing stone structure, re-purposed with traditional materials including reclaimed slate. It is believed that some materials had been removed from the building previously for use elsewhere, increasing the risk of abandonment for the Laird’s Waiting Room. This project turned that tide.
• Significant enhancement of the historic environment of Ladybank station, saving and bringing back into use a long empty and derelict roofless building on the main southbound platform. The project was carried out in conjunction with works by Network Rail/ Scotrail to provide a new car park and disabled ramp access to the east platform, thereby providing a significant visual enhancement to this previously unkempt and disused area of railway sidings to the east of Ladybank Station.
The £250,000 project at this small but significant building has punched above its weight in not only securing the restoration/ preservation of an important part of Fife’s railway heritage, but providing a multi-use community facility which addresses a significant gap in local facilities, will assist community cohesion in helping local groups to establish and function and will offer visitor interest through the interpretative displays. Beginning work on the project in approx. 2011, Ladybank Development Trust began operating the meeting room in 2016 - building their capacity over five years to take on this historic building and manage it for the benefit of the Ladybank community.