REALLY SideTracked - Shrivenham
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Opened on 17th December 1840, Shrivenham Railway Station was the result of Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s vision and planning. Brunel, appointed as a 26-year-old engineer, was asked in 1833 to come up with a route linking London to Bristol; he crisscrossed the country by stagecoach looking at alternative places for the route and stations. On the 6th May 1933 Isambard travelled through Uffington before eventually stopping off in Shrivenham; it was at this time that he decided a station should be built at Shrivenham. After a Railway Act was passed in 1834 Brunel’s draft proposals became reality when the famous G.W.R. was given the green light.
The G.W.R. total cost of construction exceeded £6 million, and it was not long before both merchants and travellers flocked to the railway. The railway became a vital part of rural life and, when snow cut off the station in 1881, locals came out in force to clear the line.
Shrivenham started as a broad gauge main line then, as the trains changed in size, so the lines had to change to fit it. In 1872 Shrivenham became mixed gauge before finally becoming standard gauge in 1892.
At its height of popularity in 1913 Shrivenham Station issued 17,245 tickets to passengers, forwarded 67,148 parcels, received 3,112 tonnes of goods, and dealt with 442 trucks of livestock. These figures fluctuated little over the first three decades of the 20th Century but the advent of the automobile dented the railway’s appeal, so by 1933 less than 8,000 people used the station.
However, that did not stop innovation within the railway and in 1933 Shrivenham Station saw the number of tracks quadruple.
The biggest disaster to befall Shrivenham Station happened in 1936. Five wagons filled with coal became detached from the engine transporting them when a drawbar broke, leaving it in the path of an express train carrying 96 passengers, which was travelling behind. Mr Earnest Alfred Starr, the engine driver, and passenger Nina Gladys Courtney died as a result of injuries sustained through the accident. The express train ran into the back of the coal wagons - it derailed –which led to the carriages containing passengers to concertina into the back of it. It is a miracle that more people didn’t perish. Passengers extricated themselves from the carriages then fought for hours to get the train driver from the wreckage.
The driver of the King William III, which was travelling overnight from Penzance, and the lady passenger who died, were remembered by Inspector Mount when he opened an inquest into the accident. No fault was found with the driver of the goods train who did not realise the coal trucks had detached until he reached his final destination at Ashbury.
In Tom Brown's Schooldays, the main character Tom Brown mentions Shrivenham railway station: "Most of you have probably travelled down the Great Western Railway as far as Swindon. Those of you who did so with their eyes open have been aware, soon after leaving the Didcot station, of a fine range of chalk hills running parallel with the railway on the left-hand side as you go down, and distant some two or three miles, more or less, from the line. The highest point in the range is the White Horse Hill, which you come in front of just before you stop at the Shrivenham station. If you love English scenery, and have a few hours to spare, you can't do better, the next time you pass, than stop at the Farringdon Road or Shrivenham station, and make your way to that highest point."
Dr Richard Beeching, head of the British Transport Commission, recommended wide scale cutbacks on the railway network. Between 1962 and 1968 the number of stations was reduced from 5,000 to 2,700. Shrivenham Station was closed to passengers on 7th December 1964 and totally closed on 4th October 1965.
Today the old Station is used by a demolition, recycling and waste management company and is not accessible unless you have business with them! The main line into Paddington still uses these tracks so you may get deafened as InterCity trains roar past! Nearby there is a restaurant, which is the closest you can get to the old railway station now, with a few cottages behind it.
Go to the above coordinates and answer the following questions:
1. How many fat dogs can you see? a
2. How many hanging basket brackets are there? b
3. How many pieces of glass in the entrance door? c
4. How many large glass lanterns are there? d
5. Note the telephone number nearby. What are the second, sixth and tenth digits? e, f and g
You may like to use this grid for your answers:
Then go to:
Although the final cache is reasonably close by I would not advise walking there unless you are VERY careful, as the lanes are fairly narrow, there is no path, some sharp corners, and faster-than-it-should-be-on-corners traffic! There are however parking areas close to the cache, to both the North and South sides of the railway tracks. There is no need to go onto railway property as there is a bridge if you need to cross over.
South CP (Accessible):
Congratulations to Smenus and Slogger007 for being joint FTF
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