STONE’S train passengers could get a much needed waiting room as part of plans to put the historic railway building to better use.
Stone Station Community Centre, which was taken on by the town council, reopened to the public in 2004 as a place for parties, meetings and even weddings.
A decade later the council is considering ways to encourage more people to use the centre and enlisted local marketing company CCB to prepare a report.
But at last week’s meeting councillors said the Grade II listed building, which was opened in 1849 on the first day of the North Staffordshire Railway’s Passenger Operation, posed challenges.
Councillor Joyce Farnham said: “I think the big problem of the station is the size of the rooms there – they are so small. If you want to put anything of importance on you haven’t got the space.
“A lot of people would like to use the station but there isn’t the room. You have a central room, then the two tiny rooms, which are hardly used at all, and the front room.”
But one of the “tiny rooms” could be of use to passengers waiting for trains to London on the neighbouring platform, she added.
Currently there is a shelter on the opposite platform, for trains going to Crewe, but southbound passengers face a drafty wait on the platform, nicknamed .
“That little side room would be of good community value if it were used as it originally was as a waiting room. In the really bad cold wind people need somewhere to wait – it’s pneumonia corner,” Councillor Farnham said.
Councillor Ann Tomlinson backed her calls. She said: “If we are going to get more people using the station we need to have at least a room for people to wait in comfort.
“We could draw attention to the fact the building is for hire. We could have posters. If there is information for people to get in touch, they could say “I saw this while waiting for a train- it’s quite simple when you think about it.”
Councillor Mike Williamson added: “If we want to use it as a waiting room we would have to apply to Network Rail because they own the station. We would have to ask if they would like to rent the room off us – we could even make some money.”