There is a proposed major reorganisation of the station entrance shared by Railtrack and the S.V.R. It would consist of three major changes at a total cost of £3,500,000:
I. There will be traffic lights on the junction of the station approach and Comberton Hill.
II. The station approach itself is to be re-modelled.
III. The main line station building is to be replaced.
A major impact on the Severn Valley station will be as a result of the widening the approach to allow a larger bus stop area on the left hand side of the entrance. The bus parking area will lose its cobble stones – a great pity as they must date back well over 100 years and are now a very rare feature of station entrances, or any where else for that matter. As a result the roadway will need to be widened in the direction of our station so the S.V.R will have to give up some land and lose the path, real gas lamp and speartop fencing to the left of our forecourt. This is a pity too, because this area does much to enhance the appearance and sets the 'period' scene where our passengers arrive. The gas lamp, paviors and speartop fencing along our path as well as several items of signage were installed by and are the property of the S.V.R, so we will have to make sure they are rescued for possible re-use elsewhere.
The S.V.R forecourt will be crossed by a new exit roadway but will retain its cobbles, indeed some of the cobbles taken up at the station entrance will be reused to make good the resultant 'missing' areas of road surface along the this new route.
The original proposals were to tarmac the whole area, but thankfully Dave Postle, representing the Museum, (who will also have to give up some land) managed to negotiate the retention of the cobbles in the roadway in front of our station.
The 1960's main line station is to be demolished and replaced by another to the south of the present structure. No, it will not be a recreation of the famous G.W.R mock-Tudor structure that was there previously but it is said to be 'in keeping' with the S.V.R station! We shall see. It is a small building about the size of the present structure. When I asked the 'spokesman' at the launch he was unable or unwilling to say if there were to be proper passenger facilities such as a waiting room. Indeed, the questionnaire I was handed asked if a toilet was necessary! There is to be a platform awning though, thank goodness, and (unless I misunderstood what was being said) shelters for bus passengers.
The object of all this disruption and expenditure would seem to be to make the main line station more disabled-friendly and to encourage intending passengers to arrive and leave by public transport. As the public transport will not be fully integrated road with rail, some sort of amenities will be essential if passengers are expected to wait around on cold wet windy days. The amenities will need to be safeguarded against vandalism and loitering undesirables otherwise passengers will feel at risk.
This will be an opportunity to improve some of the facilities at the main line station which I very much hope will be fully exploited, especially as both the S.V.R and the Museum have had to agree to sacrifices to allow this project to proceed. My concern is that there seems to be nothing in the package to benefit the Severn Valley Railway. We will lose land and some pleasant heritage features of make way for the remodelled road, and of course the bus area, cobbled at present, will receive a modern surface. It may be the concern that traffic lights in Comberton Hill causing tailbacks to the road junctions at either end and causing gridlock, and the loss of parking alongside commercial premises on the Hill, will encourage second thoughts.
Mick Yarker. June 2010
Taking a Look Back
In a previous newsletter we saw how the G.W.R carried small goods to and from local stations via main distribution centres to provide a next-day service. Obviously the railway had to handle bulk freight as well, such as coal, china clay etc., and the October 1946 edition of the Great Western Railway Magazine has an article dealing with perishables where rapid delivery is essential...
The G.W.R is dealing with harvest business in some form all year round. There is the regular conveyance of imported and home produced "keepable" food from the canneries as well as the current output of seasonal traffic. Future growings, too, have to be borne in mind; this means transporting to farms and market gardens the basic slag, lime, sulphate of ammonia and other fertilizers – hundreds of thousands of tons – as well as seeds and agricultural equipment for next season's use.
This year the Company's carrying of seasonal traffic has been particularly impressive, and over a thousand special trains have been run to ensure early delivery to the markets. By the season's end 170,000 tons of broccoli and early potatoes from West Wales, fruit and vegetables from the Vale of Evesham and tomatoes from the Channel Islands will have been transported to the markets. From Guernsey and Jersey alone some three million packages of tomatoes had been conveyed by early September. Growers this summer have fought a grim battle with the weather, and lack of sunshine has prolonged the season, particularly in plum growing districts. Despite this handicap, by mid September the Company had despatched over 39,500 tons of fruit and vegetables from Evesham, Pershore, Littleton and Badsey, Campden and Fladbury.
To perfect the transport link between Worcestershire orchards and the consumer's table, the Company arranged fifteen special freight services daily from Monday to Friday, during the height of the season. On the peak loading day 374 wagons were forwarded, carrying 900 tons of produce. Feeder trains were run from various loading stations to link up with the main trunk services.
Foreseeing that the tremendous amount of cartage work would put a strain on the grower's resources, the Company came to their aid in this respect as well. As the season progressed extra staff and vehicles were temporarily transferred from other stations for the sole purpose of dealing with this urgent traffic. By late summer over 6,000 tons had been carted by Great Western vehicles in the Vale of Evesham...
There were two illustrations to accompany the above article. I recognised them immediately as I had been given copies some years back by Roy Hewlett who worked with me at Nu-way. In the late 1940's he was a lorry driver for the G.W.R, based at Pershore, and was one of the staff featured in the pictures. He was driving the Thornycroft 'Nippy' GYH 66 (which has a chassis identical to ours, but is fitted with a standard Thornycroft cab which does not feature the G.W.R designed cab with a 'safety' driver's sliding door as fitted to the lorry we are restoring.)
Both the later G.W.R vehicle paint schemes are shown. The leading lorry in the group of four carries 'Factory Brown' livery with straw coloured lettering and roundels with a black chassis and mudguards and red wheels, as does the third vehicle, the Mechanical Horse. The second and fourth vehicles are painted in the earlier coach brown and cream, lettered in white (on the brown) and black (on the cream). The chassis, mudguards and wheels are as before. I do not know the meaning of the H in a disc on the cab side of second vehicle.