When we decided that the new kiosk for the station should be 'disguised' as a tobacconist we never expected any adverse comment. But we should have known better. We have had people think that in some way we are condoning smoking! How odd is that?
In the 1930's smoking was considered to be totally acceptable. In fact it was more than that, it was very much en vogue. Take a look at one of the early talkies and the hero and heroine can be seen staring dreamily into one another's eyes through swirls of cigarette smoke.
Thankfully, attitudes may have changed. (I personally think the tobacco industry is wicked. For pure commercial gain the tobacco companies seek to lure people into the smoking habit, knowing full-well the health risks involved and that the addiction is very hard to break. It will virtually guarantee sales until their customer's death - in many cases from smoking, horribly and prematurely and to the great distress of the smoker, friends and family.)
So our little kiosk has a sad place in history, it reflects a different age, a time when the medical profession were largely ignorant of the dangers of breathing in smoke, and the cigarette companies did everything they could to discredit claims that it could be harmful. For those of us with rose-tinted spectacles, perhaps, it should be a reminder that days gone by were not always so much better than today.
There have been some dramatic changes at Kidderminster Town Station. The car park has now had barriers installed in an effort to prevent people parking without paying. Once in, it takes a £3 token to open the barrier to let a vehicle out. Regular volunteers have been issued with an electronic pass key. Hopefully the system will bring in a little extra revenue over time, and maybe the car park will get cleared of all the extraneous items that are dumped in it to free up about forty more valuable spaces! Well worth the effort.
Two of the three new storage sheds have been erected in the compound. The first will provide ample dry storage for the props used in the 40's and other special events. I note that it comes with an emergency exit door. Ours did not, necessitating us retro-fitting one at the Fire Officer's insistence. The second is for the S&T Department.
Hopefully some of the material in open storage will go inside and the compound will be opened up to access once more. At present it is blocked up solid!
The kiosk project has absorbed quite a bit of time. We produced a basic drawing as a guide to construction but the detail of the joints and the arrangement of the trim, mouldings and the internal shelves were left to the would-be builder. The design was inspired by the kiosks illustrated in '"The Southern Railway Victoria Station a Unique Perspective" but does not follow any particular prototype. For one thing all the kiosks were larger than we needed, and some were not at all suitable.
Obviously an independent tobacconist would chose a size and style to suit his requirements so a freelance design based on the 1930's vogue would be completely appropriate and once a size was chosen the overall dimensions fell into place... A door is a certain size, a counter a certain height and the ceiling needs to be above the door, obviously.
We chose a counter wide enough to display items laid out for sale, and the shelves inside are based around the size of A4 magazines. The only 'arty' design decision needed was how to make a plain box into a 1930's kiosk by adding suitable mouldings. This was not particularly detailed on our drawing - that would be up to the carpenter putting it together.
No carpenter was forthcoming! We ended up being the builders ourselves and have progressed rather slowly. Neither Bob nor I are experienced at woodworking, and we have to think up solutions to each of the problems we encounter as we progress - a case of making it up as we go.
We have been working on the kiosk on Thursdays and Saturdays almost every week since the last Newsletter appeared. We began with a basic frame with a floor, under which was a set of heavy duty castors. Then we added cladding, a roof with an internal gutter, windows, shelves and finally the mouldings.
The 1930's design, to fit in with the period of the station, required Art Deco style trim rather than some off-the-shelf modern beading which doesn't give the correct look. We had to make the mouldings ourselves, but fortunately stepped shapes and square, grooved strips so popular in 1930's decor are easy to make with a router.
Several people have spoken to us expecting the kiosk to be painted in Great Western colours. It is not. The reason is that it represents an independent tobacconist trader's kiosk and as such would be painted in the house colours of the trader in the same way as the W. H. Smith's kiosk is painted in their own green livery. As it is a fictitious trader we could choose any appropriate period colour we wish, or even scumble it in mock wood grain. We finally chose maroon as it was not used elsewhere on the station.
Our design is such that a small display of items for sale can go on the counter with more on what would be the shelves for cigarettes inside at the back of the kiosk. If more stock has to be displayed this can go on tables in front or to the side of the kiosk and can be put away on shelves under the counter when not on sale.
The kiosk can then be shuttered and locked, and fit in with the heritage atmosphere of the station. Fortunately we have a very nice roller shutter made from Mahogany to close the kiosk when not in use. Bob obtained it some years ago and presented it to Malcolm Broadhurst who has given it back to us. It needed modifying to fit but that did not present a problem.
It is intended that the windows either side of the counter can be set up as display cabinets, for tobacconist's items maybe.
Some of these finishing touches will come later but the priority is to have the kiosk sufficiently complete to be able to use it for 1940's weekends at the end of June. It will be used to sell sweets normally sold in the WHS kiosk.
My thought is that with time and money available the ancillary sales stand tables could be dispensed with and a pair of Great Western four-wheeled platform trolleys restored to act as tables instead. When not in use for sales purposes they would become items of display in their own right.
To this end Andy 'demolished' a rotten barrow so that all the woodwork could be measured and made afresh. Charley has begun scraping and wire brushing all the metal parts in readiness.