Author Topic: Another bit of railway heritage being lost  (Read 5287 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline the gorgon

  • Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1411
  • Hello !
Another bit of railway heritage being lost
« on: February 18, 2015, 07:02:11 PM »
Just been watching BBC Points West and apparently the signalling control panel in Swindon is being moved to Didcot railway museum when it gets decommissioned.  We're losing another bit of our railway heritage and it's not as if we don't have a railway museum in Swindon either.

 :argh:  :bash:



Offline Tobes

  • Regents
  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 4951
Re: Another bit of railway heritage being lost
« Reply #1 on: February 18, 2015, 11:25:45 PM »
Gorgon, surely our local steam-heads will do something about this ?!
I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it - [attributed to] Voltaire... 'Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessita' - William of Occam.... 'You have a right to feel offended, but just cos you are offended doesn't mean you are right'

Offline Midlander

  • Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 110
  • Hello !
Re: Another bit of railway heritage being lost
« Reply #2 on: February 20, 2015, 09:40:26 AM »
I guess the Steam museum could have taken this in at one time, however someone came up with the idea to build flats all around the museum, and there is no room to expand. Obviously there is some empty space, but this is used for conferences which brings money in.

Whoever came up with the idea of cramming several blocks of flats together?

Offline Tobes

  • Regents
  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 4951
Re: Another bit of railway heritage being lost
« Reply #3 on: February 20, 2015, 11:14:37 AM »
Quote
Whoever came up with the idea of cramming several blocks of flats together?

... Developers aided and abetted by our vibrant and 'forward thinking' council...?

mind you, in fairness to them, if the museum had aspirations to expand, they really ought to have secured the land/buildings to do it for themselves when they had the opportunity. The council or owners of the land could hardly have held off on the vague future possibility....
« Last Edit: February 20, 2015, 12:20:32 PM by Tobes »
I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it - [attributed to] Voltaire... 'Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessita' - William of Occam.... 'You have a right to feel offended, but just cos you are offended doesn't mean you are right'

Offline Spunkymonkey

  • Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 999
  • Gender: Male
  • Hello !
Re: Another bit of railway heritage being lost
« Reply #4 on: February 20, 2015, 07:12:30 PM »
Quote
Whoever came up with the idea of cramming several blocks of flats together?

... Developers aided and abetted by our vibrant and 'forward thinking' council...?

mind you, in fairness to them, if the museum had aspirations to expand, they really ought to have secured the land/buildings to do it for themselves when they had the opportunity. The council or owners of the land could hardly have held off on the vague future possibility....

The old railway works were a derelict eyesore before a developer came in and regenerated the outlet village and built the flats. Personally, I don't see what is so bad about building flats on a derelict brown field site in the town centre where people need them. Isn't this better than building on green field sites on the outskirts of the town?

I also fail to see how the flats have prevented the museum from expanding. Surely the outlet village did this when they took over the workshops which were being used for railway conservation projects. If it wasn't for the developer, I doubt that we would have the museum at all.

Offline Tobes

  • Regents
  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 4951
Re: Another bit of railway heritage being lost
« Reply #5 on: February 21, 2015, 02:18:20 AM »
Don't misquote me entirely Spunks - I pretty much agree with you  :wink:

If expansion of the museum was likely, holding off on a smallish amount of those flats might have been good - but of course it would need to have been agreed between all parties; museum, planners AND developers.

That said, personally, I think the designer outlet is pretty much the only example of sensitive, intelligent retail development that the town can boast
I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it - [attributed to] Voltaire... 'Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessita' - William of Occam.... 'You have a right to feel offended, but just cos you are offended doesn't mean you are right'

Offline Spunkymonkey

  • Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 999
  • Gender: Male
  • Hello !
Re: Another bit of railway heritage being lost
« Reply #6 on: February 21, 2015, 01:55:24 PM »
Don't misquote me entirely Spunks - I pretty much agree with you  :wink:

Sorry Tobes. I didn't mean to misquote you. Mine was intended as a response to Midlanders original comment.

The museum did have plans to expand of sorts. There was a desire to have a working steam train in the forecourt between the museum and outlet centre or a model railway running around the site. I attended a number of meetings about it several years ago, but it fell through mostly on safety grounds.

The museum was struggling when it first opened and was heavily subsidised (possibly still is). One idea was to have a working steam train which would encourage people out of the retail centre and make them want to visit STEAM. Unfortunately, due to safety reasons the proposed solution to the problem actually added to the problem. The short length of track would have to be fenced off, so whilst it might attract people out of the retail centre it would actually act as a barrier to the museum.

A model railway was seen as a compromise solution, but an enthusiast advised the borough that it would also have to fenced off. Apparently, small children see a model train, think it is Thomas, want to give it a hug and burn their faces off.

It is also worth noting that the signal controller isn't being destroyed it is being moved to Didcot Railway Centre. It might be part of Swindon's heritage, but that doesn't mean that it fits in with Swindon's collection. Swindon has a STEAM museum. The signal controller dates from 1968 and is post GWR and post steam era. Perhaps Didcot is a more appropriate location.

Contributors on Talkswindon are quick to criticise developers, but as you point out, the outlet centre is a good example of development in the town. I would go as far as to call it the jewel in Swindon's crown. In the absence of any significant tourist attractions in the town, the outlet centre is probably the main reason that anyone visits.

Before the developer moved in, this was not only a derelict brownfield site it was a horribly polluted one. The railway works polluted the soil with a variety of horrible chemicals including arsenic, asbestos, lead etc. It is easy to reminisce about the good old days, but I find it slightly ironic that the people who object to modern developments and demand that heritage is preserved, would have no doubt campaigned against the railway works had they been alive when it was built. I am sure that the old GWR company were far more money grabbing and ruthless than any modern developer.

It is good that the museum and outlet centre have preserved the building and the museum tells the history, but a retail centre and bunch of flats is much better that the dirty smelly factory that used to be there. 

Offline Tobes

  • Regents
  • Member
  • *
  • Posts: 4951
Re: Another bit of railway heritage being lost
« Reply #7 on: February 21, 2015, 08:50:59 PM »
Totally agree with you.

I hope that Swindon's normal timorous attitude to 'elf an' safety' hasn't done for STEAM in the long run; a museum which cannot expand or which will always be limited in what it can display probably has a limited lifespan; it seems to me that given Swindon's historical importance in the history of steam-power, our museum (good as it is) already risks punching a little below its weight compared to York or Didcott.

Given the ever increasing levels of interest in our industrial heritage, I would hope that STEAM attracts the visitor numbers to be self-sustaining rather than requiring subsidy - but to continually attract repeat visitors (as well as new ones) or MORE visitors, its marketing and exhibits will always require a degree of reinvention. If they don't have space to expand or do innovative things, they may find themselves both limited or out competed by larger museums who can afford to be more expansive.

It is, at the end of the day (along with the outlet village), pretty much THE ONLY attraction which brings visitors and their pounds into our town - certainly with far more significance than chain franchise bars which can be found in any other identi-kit towns... Funnily enough, I was speaking to someone recently who reiterated what they'd heard from two large local employers; that its STILL very very difficult to get skilled people to relocate to Swindon because its widely held perception as a culture-less, overly plebeian and architecturally ugly town.

(Does anyone know if 'Vorwards Swindon' have ever publicly acknowledged this otherwise widely held observation, and attempted to use their influence to get developers, planners and the council to come up with any kind of strategy to address it?)
I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it - [attributed to] Voltaire... 'Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessita' - William of Occam.... 'You have a right to feel offended, but just cos you are offended doesn't mean you are right'

Offline Midlander

  • Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 110
  • Hello !
Re: Another bit of railway heritage being lost
« Reply #8 on: February 23, 2015, 03:27:50 PM »

[/quote]

The old railway works were a derelict eyesore before a developer came in and regenerated the outlet village and built the flats. Personally, I don't see what is so bad about building flats on a derelict brown field site in the town centre where people need them. Isn't this better than building on green field sites on the outskirts of the town?

[/quote]

True, but those flats are even more of an eyesore. Whoever came up with the idea of cramming them so close together with more on the way? They must be incredibly dark.

As for the Steam Museum being short of money, this was always a mystery. When the place first opened there were long queues to get in, and ticket prices were not cheap, and yet we were told they weren't making enough! Where was all the money going? Were hundreds of Swindon residents given free tickets, as if they were I wasn't one of them!

Offline Spunkymonkey

  • Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 999
  • Gender: Male
  • Hello !
Re: Another bit of railway heritage being lost
« Reply #9 on: February 23, 2015, 08:11:35 PM »
As for the Steam Museum being short of money, this was always a mystery. When the place first opened there were long queues to get in, and ticket prices were not cheap, and yet we were told they weren't making enough! Where was all the money going? Were hundreds of Swindon residents given free tickets, as if they were I wasn't one of them!

I am not sure about the beginning, but at one time entry was free on one afternoon per week and I think a lot of children also went on school trips, so their parents probably didn't bother.

Unless you are a railway enthusiast, I think it is the type of place that you go to once every 5 - 10 years. I went about a year after it opened and haven't been back since, although I am thinking of going this weekend. I have a group of university friends visiting. We each take it turns to host a get together. It is a lads weekend, but we are getting too old to drink non stop for 48 hours, so we usually have a few beers on the Friday evening, a swim in the hotel pool and a cultural visit on Saturday morning, a few beers over lunch, a bit more culture in the afternoon before a lot more beers on Saturday evening.

Next weekend is my turn to host and I have a dilemma. Can I find enough to keep them satisfied in Swindon or do we jump on a train and go to Bath?

Our recent trips included:-

HMS Victory, Gun Wharf Quays and Isle of Wight in and about Portsmouth.

Banks Brewery tour and Black Country Museum when we visited Wallsall.

Niagra Falls, CNN tower and a wine tasting tour in Toronto.

Pottery Museum and Stoke v Arsenal game in Stoke.

Bristol Harbourside and SS Great Britain in Bristol.

Is there enough at STEAM to keep them happy or do we go to Bath? Any ideas would be welcome. 





Offline Geoff Reid

  • Twitter: @Geoff_Reid
  • Active But Odd
  • Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 10109
  • Gender: Male
  • Bald as a chimps arse
Re: Another bit of railway heritage being lost
« Reply #10 on: February 24, 2015, 12:10:06 AM »

Bath.  If you've got pushbikes start at Bradford upon Avon and ride in via the Avoncliffe Aquaduct and Dundas Viaduct and enjoy a really nice canalside pub lunch at the George in Bathampton 

Even better, (if you've a penchant for such things), the Tank museum at Bovingdon, with Monkey world just up the road.  Few things are funnier than seeing monkeys hurl their feces at your mate faces! :)

Swindon, however, is quite exceptional if you enjoy showing people where interesting things used to be.

Offline Muggins

  • Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8535
Re: Another bit of railway heritage being lost
« Reply #11 on: February 24, 2015, 03:01:56 PM »
Take them to the Steam Museum then hit the great outdoors - and the Ice Rink.

Bet none of them have been right up to a White Horse. 
Oi! Listen mush. Old eyes, remember? I’ve been around the block a few times. More than a few. They’ve knocked down the blocks I’ve been around and rebuilt them as bigger blocks. Super blocks. And I’ve been round them as well.  The Doctor (Night Terrors)

Offline Spunkymonkey

  • Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 999
  • Gender: Male
  • Hello !
Re: Another bit of railway heritage being lost
« Reply #12 on: February 24, 2015, 06:58:51 PM »
Bath.  If you've got pushbikes start at Bradford upon Avon and ride in via the Avoncliffe Aquaduct and Dundas Viaduct and enjoy a really nice canalside pub lunch at the George in Bathampton 

One of the lads is in a wheelchair so cycling is out.

Will definitely try this route with my girlfriend or a group of Swindon friends in the summer though.  :)

Offline Spunkymonkey

  • Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 999
  • Gender: Male
  • Hello !
Re: Another bit of railway heritage being lost
« Reply #13 on: February 24, 2015, 07:15:21 PM »
Take them to the Steam Museum then hit the great outdoors - and the Ice Rink.

Bet none of them have been right up to a White Horse.

I had wondered about go-karting, Uffington or Avebury followed by Steam, but the former aren't really suitable for a wheelchair user. I could use Andy as a guinea pig and take him across the shared space at Regents Circus, but he is a good friend and I wouldn't want to lose him.

Bath is appealing as quite a large volume of beer will be consumed over the course of the day. A couple of people might drive in the morning but sooner or later they will want to ditch the car and have a drink. We can hop on the train and leave the cars behind.

It's a shame that the England rugby game is on Sunday otherwise we would probably visit Steam in the morning and then spend the afternoon supping beer in Old Town. 


Offline I Could Do That

  • Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1960
  • Swindon Born & Bred & Gone
Re: Another bit of railway heritage being lost
« Reply #14 on: February 24, 2015, 07:53:54 PM »
You could substitute the white horse for Combe Gibbet near Hungerford.
Not many people will have seen a real gallows. (Pretty certain it's wheelchair accessible)
Hungerford also has the canal and curiosity shops. Then Steam could still be on the list
Proud to be gone

Offline Weebleman

  • Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 444
Re: Another bit of railway heritage being lost
« Reply #15 on: February 24, 2015, 09:49:42 PM »
Hire the day boat from Devizes Marina http://www.devizesmarina.co.uk/dayBoatHire.php
and do a booze cruise  :thumb:

Edit to Add: Plenty of pubs in Devizes for a crawl in the evening too.

Offline Geoff Reid

  • Twitter: @Geoff_Reid
  • Active But Odd
  • Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 10109
  • Gender: Male
  • Bald as a chimps arse
Re: Another bit of railway heritage being lost
« Reply #16 on: February 24, 2015, 11:18:30 PM »
You could substitute the white horse for Combe Gibbet near Hungerford.
Not many people will have seen a real gallows. (Pretty certain it's wheelchair accessible)
Hungerford also has the canal and curiosity shops. Then Steam could still be on the list


Ah, my inner pedant arises.... :)    It's not a gallows, it's a gibbet.

Coombe was my teenage stomping ground so I can claim familiarity with it.  The Gibbet sits atop a long barrow on Gallows down (probably why many think the gibbet was a gallows) and was erected for the sole purpose of gibbeting one pair of murders.  No other bodies were ever gibbeted there although I know of several dummies which were hoisted there in the 70's, 80' and early 90's.

The original gibbet was destroyed (by fire I think) and the current one is the latest in a series of very good replicas.

You can drive motor vehicles (very carefully) up the chalk and flint track and park very close (5 or 10 yards) to the barrow and gibbet.  You probably can get a wheelchair right up to it but, (up until my last visit at least), the paths are little more than sheep tracks and are not metalled.  A wheechair user will almost certainly require some assistance.

The views from the top of Gallows Down are gorgeous.  Used to be a very popular spot for hangliding :)

Nearest villages are Faccombe and Inpen.  Can't remember if the Jack Russell pub (Faccombe) does food or not but the Crown and Garter in Inkpen probably does. 


Edit: Here you go: http://www.hungerfordvirtualmuseum.co.uk/Places/Combe_Gibbet/combe_gibbet.html

I thought there had been 5 gibbets, turns out that there have been 6 :)

Offline Geoff Reid

  • Twitter: @Geoff_Reid
  • Active But Odd
  • Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 10109
  • Gender: Male
  • Bald as a chimps arse
Re: Another bit of railway heritage being lost
« Reply #17 on: February 25, 2015, 12:28:32 AM »
Bath.  If you've got pushbikes start at Bradford upon Avon and ride in via the Avoncliffe Aquaduct and Dundas Viaduct and enjoy a really nice canalside pub lunch at the George in Bathampton 


One of the lads is in a wheelchair so cycling is out.

Will definitely try this route with my girlfriend or a group of Swindon friends in the summer though.  :)


Ah, I see..... in which case, (although this may not interest you/him), take a ganders at 'Warmley Wheelers' - I was admiring some of their tandem trikes last time I rode the Bath to Bristol railway path and I'm sure one of their number said that they were intending to make their bikes/trikes generally available for hire - including some which are pedalled by hand crank.

If you like the idea of cycling in the Bath area you've got to include the Two Tunnels Greenway at some point- it's sublime.....and you can also snag a decent pub lunch at the Midford viaduct.  Pretty sure I plonked a video on youtube a while back, (ridden it several times since as part of a Bradford to Bath, round Bath and back again ride).

 

Offline Muggins

  • Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8535
Re: Another bit of railway heritage being lost
« Reply #18 on: February 25, 2015, 08:22:24 AM »
If what you are after is a booze up, and it seems you are, buy day rover tickets on Thamesdown Transport and just get off at every stop. From Fleming way to Haydon Wick, there must be a pub on every one. Don't know if times have changes, but whatever stop you wanted you asked for it by the pubs name. 

You could try for a group visit to Arkells Brewery, or Archers. 

You don't have to go far out of town to find views and barrows etc. Try Hackpen, or bary Castle if you go up to it the Wroughton Way you could probably get the wheelchair along to that.
Oi! Listen mush. Old eyes, remember? I’ve been around the block a few times. More than a few. They’ve knocked down the blocks I’ve been around and rebuilt them as bigger blocks. Super blocks. And I’ve been round them as well.  The Doctor (Night Terrors)

Offline Geoff Reid

  • Twitter: @Geoff_Reid
  • Active But Odd
  • Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 10109
  • Gender: Male
  • Bald as a chimps arse
Re: Another bit of railway heritage being lost
« Reply #19 on: February 25, 2015, 11:41:20 AM »
If what you are after is a booze up, and it seems you are, buy day rover tickets on Thamesdown Transport and just get off at every stop. From Fleming way to Haydon Wick, there must be a pub on every one. Don't know if times have changes, but whatever stop you wanted you asked for it by the pubs name. 

You could try for a group visit to Arkells Brewery, or Archers. 

You don't have to go far out of town to find views and barrows etc. Try Hackpen, or bary Castle if you go up to it the Wroughton Way you could probably get the wheelchair along to that.

The track surface going East or West from Hackpen hill is very rough after the first 200 or 300 hundred yards.  The picnic area at Barbury Castle is easily accessible for wheelchairs but the castle itself is reached (from the picnic area) through a 400 yard field with (fairly smooth) grass path but getting atop the ringworks would probably be difficult although not impossible in a chair.

It's a similar situation at Uffington (White Horse) although getting to Waylands Smithy is much easier if you ignore the official car park and park at the top of the lane at Knighton Hill. The ridgeway between Knighton Hill and Wayland Smithy is well maintained and easily navigable for wheelchairs, scooters and pushchairs.  At a pinch you can park 3 or 4 cars there and it's a 1 mile walk (there and back)  From the official car park it's almost exactly a 3 mile walk.

I just remembered - Blue Badge holders are able (I'm fairly sure about this) on Dragon Hill Road. This would make the White Horse more accessible but still quite a steep uphill push.

Offline Spunkymonkey

  • Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 999
  • Gender: Male
  • Hello !
Re: Another bit of railway heritage being lost
« Reply #20 on: February 25, 2015, 09:10:31 PM »
Thanks for all of the great ideas. I will put it to vote when they arrive.

It sort of proves the point that Swindon is a good base from which to visit local attractions without offering much in the town itself. I want to paint my home town in a good light and feel a bit of a fraud driving them miles away. On the other hand, we could be in Bath, Devizes or the Cotswolds quicker than it would take them to drive 10 miles within their own congested cities. The proximity to other places and the variety that offers, makes Swindon a good place to live, but I would need a week to get that across. At the end of the day we will enjoy each others company over a few beers no matter where we go.

My friend Andy has MS and has good days and bad days. For obvious reasons, he is less able to attend our get togethers as regularly as the others. I haven't seen him for a year, so don't really know the current extent of his disability.

There will be 6 burly lads in attendance so we will carry him if we have to. We had to carry him and his chair through a subway with no lift at a railway station on the Isle of Wight and managed to push him down and through the coal mine (in the dark) at the Black Country Museum. He is not one to be easily defeated.