I might be getting a bit 'picky' but after a recent visit to the Blists Hill museum, I took a good look around our station to see how well we compare with this world-class attraction. Like Blists Hill we have a number of improvements and developments under way and no doubt over the years further improvements and additions will be made, but I must say that in some areas we have become somewhat 'down at heel' compared to Ironbridge! Our station is certainly old enough to require continual maintenance. It is not long before paint begins to peel and the wood underneath begins to soak up water and rot. Indeed, a quick and poorly applied coat of paint, missing bits in the joints or corners not only looks amateurish but still lets water in at the most vulnerable place - the corners! If not done properly it is merely a waste of time and paint.
I am very pleased to see a gang has begun to repaint the buildings on the parcels bay platform and they are beginning to look much better. At the same time there has been a big tidy-up which has done much to improve the look of the bay platform (which is now no longer permanently hidden from passengers view.) Well done all concerned. A continual drive along these lines will produce a result of which we can all be proud.
But 'maintenance' also includes cutting hedges around the car park, picking up the remnants of our 'visitors' picnic, cleaning out gutters and pulling weeds. Fire buckets half full of green slime and cigarette ends do little for the smartness of our station either, and this is the job I keep finding myself sorting. Any one else want a go for a change?
Footpath Lighting Project
This project is now well advanced, with all five lamp posts and tops in position. The two lamp posts at the station end are original G.W.R items, as is the top on the post nearest to the station, but the remainder of the installation is new replica equipment supplied by Steelway Rail.
Inside each of the lamp tops is an electric lighting unit, manufactured by ourselves in such a way as to be as close in appearance as possible to a proper gas fitting. Much of the necessary electrical supply was already in position, so taking in consideration the cost of putting in a gas supply together with the gas lamp internals it was decided to make the compromise at this stage at least. The electrics inside the lamps did not cost very much (apart from the lamps and lamp holders) so if we, or another group, decide to convert the system to gas little will have been wasted. The lamp tops are made with a balanced flue arrangement ready for gas, and the lighting unit is designed to be directly interchangeable! However, it could be argued that electric lighting is convenient and less specialised to maintain, which is why people began changing to it in the first part of the 20th century. It was purely lack of investment on the railways that kept the gas lights burning right up to 1970, and oil lights even longer. (Martin McKenzie has informed me that the railways had a long term contract with the gas boards for supply of gas for lighting, which was one of the reasons modernisation took so long).
While working in this area we also intend to put in a speartop gate across the footpath, hung on proper cast iron gate posts and, if we can find one, a G.W.R cast iron sign 'Private Path' together with its add-on sign 'To the Station'. The arrangement of the fence and the car park ticket machine will also be altered to tidy up and improve the entrance which is poorly laid out and has a really unattractive, amateur look about it. The Severn Valley Railway deserves a better entrance than we have at present!