Elsewhere in this newsletter is a short article about an unexpected new project which we are helping with. It is a tobacconist's kiosk to be situated on the concourse here at Kidderminster Town. It is one of the largest items we have helped with for the station itself since the crestings, many years ago. It is a chance to add more period interest to the station as has the smaller projects also mentioned in this newsletter.
At present there is a big project by the Wednesday Gang to repaint all the platform benches, repairing them with new wooden planks where the old have rotted. Seeing all the benches together under the concourse, it is astonishing. What a mish-mash of different shaped bits of wood have been incorporated over the years as no effort was made to keep the design original. The cost in time and money to correct all this is beyond the resources of the Wednesday Gang at present, but as time goes by I hope we can get together and gradually rebuild the benches with hardwood cut and machined to the correct profiles as the present planks become rotten. It would also be a good time to standardise the bench lengths and spacing of the cast feet to original G.W.R specifications. I hope this is not too much to ask! A uniform and correctly made set of platform benches would do much to improve the appearance of the station.
At the front of the station, in the forecourt a great improvement has been made by removing weeds from the path and cobbles and repainting poster boards, beer store doors and other details. This work is essential maintenance, prolonging the life of the items involved and presenting a much improved first impression to our passengers. The credit goes to members of the Wednesday Gang who are making inroads into long-neglected areas of the station. The few working members of the 'Friends' have been unable to keep up with station maintenance so it is very good to see a team doing so much to improve the station. In the thirty years since it was built there are still areas which have never been repainted! This is because maintaining so much had become beyond the means of the few.
I am surprised that although we have quite a few platform volunteers on the station, few come forward to help stop their station decaying around them. However, Peter Smith has a way of inspiring people to get cracking and has built up a wonderful team, the Wednesday Gang, who are making inroads into the backlog of work.
What better tribute could they have than that the 'top brass' asked if his team could perform their magic elsewhere on the line! Thankfully Peter refused. It is up to the staff of each station to do all they can to look after the upkeep and make improvements to their own station, after all.
In recent weeks 'Friends' members Bob, Pete, Syd and myself have been working on a project to build a Tobacconist's Kiosk for on the concourse at Kidderminster Town. Its purpose will not be to sell tobacco products, though. It is destined to be the sales stand for the Station Fund Shop and is being built in the style of a 1930's tobacconist in order to be in keeping with the ambience of our station.
I have tended to gripe about modernisms on the station spoiling the atmosphere and this is an excellent chance of transforming a totally out of character existing sales stand consisting of trestle tables into something far more fitting.
The design is such that it is mounted on wheels hidden under the floor so that it can be moved off the concourse when the whole space is needed for special events. It measures just 4ft by 8ft in plan and the front corners are cut off at 45° to give a window display either side of the counter at the front. It will have a single side door, the opposite side having either an additional window and/or space for mounting a period cigarette machine (we have not finalised all the design details yet, apart from some basic layout drawings - we are making it up as we go!). However, it is being designed so that it can become a focal point in heritage events such as 40's weekend etc etc.
There is an interesting book, recently published, called 'The Southern Railway Victoria Station' which contains a pictorial survey by the Southern Railway of the independent kiosks at that station in the 1930's. It has proven to be useful inspiration for our design. Like most of the kiosks at Victoria ours is of wooden construction with a bit of Art Deco styling about it, but not too overdone. We have collected a number of period fittings to be included in the build and I have a 1930's cigarette machine rescued from Bridport station when it was demolished, which when restored will be fixed to the kiosk, offering ten Woodbines for 3d.
We are on the look-out for enamel signs for the kiosk but as they are very expensive these days and are nearly always damaged it may be necessary to fit replicas.
This project materialised more or less out of the blue. Last year the Station Fund Stall raised an appreciable amount of money for station projects and Peter Smith who is the driving force behind the Wednesday Gang asked me to draw a design for this proposed kiosk for the Station Fund Shop. Then he asked if we could help with building it. I agreed to do the 'metal bits' but Bob and I soon got dragged in. So far the project has been very interesting and rather a change from our usual work.