YOUNG student Jack Room never dreamed that his geography project would take him on a trip back in time at the Merry Hill Shopping Centre to see a station gathering dust.
He was researching the effects of tourism when his dad Mark arranged for him to see the futuristic monorail at the shopping centre in Dudley which excited rail enthusiasts when it opened in June 1991, only to close in 1996.
The fact a monorail station still exists at the shopping centre came as a big surprise to Jack, and probably to those who shop there on a regular basis.
"It was as if on a given day back in 1996 the door had been locked and from that day until now time had stood still," said the pupil from Castle High School in Dudley.
"I expected to find a building site in waiting, but I discovered quite the contrary.
"It was like stepping back in time, a strange but intriguing experience.
"We walked up an old fire escape, two flights of stairs and a corridor which at first glance was rather creepy.
"There were a few more steps before the station came into view.
"My first reaction was 'Wow!' and then I realised there was a thick layer of dust everywhere.
"Apart from the thick dust, everything was preserved in almost mint condition, the floor, the signs, the ticket machine, everything.
"At that moment I remembered watching a Youtube video from the 1990s when the trains were running and the platforms were busy with shoppers.
"Those images in my mind's-eye almost created ghosts on the platform in front of me.
"I had brought a camera with me to record the visit.
"But it wasn't until I got home to review all the pictures that I realised how incredible the place was."
He said: "The research into the monorail station served me well towards my exam result and I have to pay tribute to everyone in the geography department at Castle High School in Dudley for all the help I was given.
"It was a fantastic experience and I feel privileged to have been given the opportunity to step back in time and visit something that was perhaps years ahead of itself."
But he added: "I'm unsure as to whether the new management at the Merry Hill Shopping Centre have any plans for the station.
"But I reckon it would be a wonderful gesture to try and preserve this iconic chapter of Merry Hill's history."
Merry Hill Centre manager Liz Taylor said: "It is very exciting that Jack used the Merry Hill monorail as part of his school project and I'm sure its publication in The Bugle will stir a few memories.
"In recent months the Merry Hill Centre has changed hands and the new owners Intu obviously have other priorities, to look after customers' welfare and deal with a lot of re-branding, etc.
"But the future of the old monorail station will no doubt be looked at in the coming months, although at this stage we have to remain non-committal as to its possible use."
Did you ever travel on the monorail? What were your memories of it?
Would you like to see the Merry Hill station open to the public again?
Or should it be preserved as a museum?
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