Solicitor Joseph Mallon realised a lifetime ambition when he became the ‘station master’ of his new premises in Maghera.
While the railway tracks of yesteryear have long since disappeared from South Derry, the station master’s house near St Patrick’s College has provided a reminder of that bygone era when trains were part and parcel of the everyday landscape.
The Station Master’s House, a once derelict, red brick building always held a particular fascination for Mallon, who grew up in the nearby Crewe Drive. As a boy, Mallon walked past the station master’s house on his way to school.
“I was always intrigued by the history of this place,” said Mallon at the launch of his new office premises earlier this month.
“For someone of my generation, the station master’s house was a real curiosity because you effectively had a train station, but there were no tracks and no trains. When I was a boy and I looked at this building, you were always trying to imagine what it would have been like when the trains were running through this part of the town.”
“When I was a boy and I looked at this building, you were always trying to imagine what it would have been like when the trains were running through this part of the town.”
Maghera’s railway station closed to passengers on the 28th August 1950 and closed completely on the 1st October 1959. For the past 10 years, the station’s house, a listed building, was uninhabited and unused.
Although businesses are normally loathe to purchase a listed building, Mallon couldn’t resist when the building was put up for sale.
“I was well warned about the dangers of taking on a listed building, but I couldn’t stop myself,” laughed Mallon, who said it was “50 per cent a commercial decision and 50 per cent a labour of love”.
He added: “When you take on a listed building, I think you have to have a real passion for the project, otherwise you wouldn’t do it. There are so many headaches, added costs and unforeseen problems. Unless you have a deep attachment to the place, I don’t think you could contend with all the extra hassle.”
Redesigned by McGurk Architects and lovingly restored by P&K McKaigue Contractors, with a spectacular fit out by local firm Specialist Joinery Group, Mallon-McCormick Solicitor’s new premises have breathed fresh life into the Station Road in Maghera.
And Mallon has ensured that visitors to his solicitors’ premises are reminded of the heritage of his new offices. A graphic in the foyer of the building displays the old railway route.
“While the older people in the town can just about recall the old railway route, most people have no idea. It’s a forgotten history. People are amazed when they see that on a journey to Derry, the train stopped in places like Moneycarrrie and Macfin. I think I’m not the only one who has become captivated by this building,” said Mallon.