PLANS to convert a vacant railway stationmaster’s house into a heritage centre and museum in New Milton are progressing.

The joint project by New Milton Town Council and the Milton Heritage Society seeks to deliver a facility for the benefit of the community.

The idea was first conceived by Cllr Keith Craze, who realised New Milton was lacking a heritage centre which would tell the history of Milton parish.

He set about negotiating with Network Rail for a lease on the building and then sought approval and funding from New Milton Town Council.

A planning application to create the centre in the building off Station Road has been submitted by the town council to New Forest District Council’s planning department.

Cllr Craze said: “For New Milton it will bring answer to ‘where did we start’.

“The station was the first brick building for the town and as a consequence the development of the town followed, with that being New Milton rather than Old Milton.

“It is also part of a wider profile to raise awareness and perception of New Milton.

“This centre will be ideally located at the station for visitors coming on the train and also being accessible to residents.”

Recently, the railway stationmaster’s house became available to rent.

A group led by Cllr Craze and the Milton Heritage Society is set to take over the property, with a mission to transform it into the heritage centre which will tell the story of how the parish has evolved from 1086 through to modern times.

The idea is to use each room of the ground floor of the house to display an exhibition which will tell the story of the local history.

The upstairs will provide a large room which can be used as a learning centre for schools and community groups.

Volunteers are needed to support the project with the restoration of the building, which has fallen into a poor state since being vacant, and operation of the heritage centre once it is open.

For more information and details regarding the project contact Nick Saunders, chairman of the Milton Heritage Society, on or 01425 618549.