Plans are afoot to save Wingham's historic Station Master's cottage from slow destruction by vandals and time, and have it returned to the community for a new lease of life.
"As a 'Heritage Town' Wingham has precious little of our historic buildings left standing. We can't afford to lose anything more but that's only one reason why we need to fight to save the 112-year-old Station Master's cottage from crumbling into the earth," says Manning Valley Historical Society member and Wingham resident, Bill Beach.
For the past two years, Bill has been working towards this aim and has garnered community support from Wingham Rotary, Probus, Wingham Chamber of Commerce, Wingham Advancement Group and Manning Valley Historical Society, all of who are represented on a committee formed to obtain the cottage.
A community meeting is being held on Sunday, February 20 so the community can learn the plans in store for the cottage, and to show Community Housing and the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) the level of interest in the cottage.
"I think we're at the stage where we need more widespread community involvement," Bill says.
"We want to spread the word as much as possible to demonstrate that this is something of importance to the community, that the community is on side and has ownership of the project, and they're prepared to work with the committee as much as possible."
Bill says that both Community Housing and ARTC understand the community interest in the cottage, and both of them seem to be sympathetic to what the committee is trying to achieve.
"ARTC is aware of the community interest in obtaining either title to the cottage or a long term lease of the cottage. Verbally, Community Housing has also indicated that they don't need the cottage, they just want to get rid of it, and they understand the community aim with the cottage also."
The cottage has been sitting empty and unused for a long time. Bill says that he was told by Community Housing that they own the cottage, however ARTC says it owns the cottage, and Community Housing is leasing it from them. According to Bill, Community Housing and ARTC are currently negotiating what is to happen with the cottage. And it is taking a long time.
"Every day that goes by, this cottage deteriorates more, but we've hit this impasse," Bill says.
While watching the cottage become more run down due to vandals and neglect, Bill asked Community Housing to board it up in an attempt to prevent further vandalism from occurring.
Bill admits the cottage would take quite a lot of work to restore; he says an initial assessment suggests it would cost around $200,000, taking heritage matters into account.
"But it certainly is salvageable," he says.
Once restored, Bill hopes the cottage will become a tourist attraction, acting as a site for a railway exhibition by the Manning Valley Historical Society. He says after discussions with other community groups, the other rooms in the cottage could be used by them - as a shop for the Wingham Spinners and Craft Group, a Rotary bookshop, and perhaps a little coffee shop, he says.
All interested community members are invited to the meeting on Sunday, February 20 in the auditorium at Wingham Memorial Ex-Services Club, starting 4pm.
To keep up to date with what is happening with the cottage, visit and like the Support the Station Masters Cottage Wingham NSW Facebook page.
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