Fully booked

Remember back in early February, our 162 year old booking hall was being prepared for its annual repaint

Now with less than three weeks to reopening, it’s looking very smart

Great job – and a bright smart welcome to our passengers ūüôā

Signs

Since the new refreshment and toilet rooms were completed, the signs have needed some attention as the weather has shown up the not-quite up to WW standard of the workmanship.

So during this closure, this and the Gentlemen signs have been taken down for some WW-level of TLC.

Letters unscrewed

Stripping down

Sign under repair, letters being cleaned

New gloss black for Gentlemen sign

Repair process underway

Forth Bridge

On this day in 1890 the Forth Bridge was opened by the Duke of Rothesay (the future King Edward VII), to carry the Edinburgh-Aberdeen line across the Firth of Forth.

Like our own Victoria Bridge back in 1861, it was designed by Sir John Fowler and has a total length of 8,094 feet, with the double rail track elevated 150 feet above the water level at high tide.

Victoria Bridge is a 200 feet span and at the time was the largest iron span in the country.

To a cantilever design and the first major structure in Britain to be constructed of steel, the Forth Bridge has two main spans of 1700 feet, two side spans of 680 feet, and 15 approach spans of 168 feet.

1887, cantilever towers being built

Construction started in 1882 and at its opening it had the longest single cantilever bridge span (1709 feet) in the world. It remains the world’s second longest span, to Canada’s Quebec Bridge.

Our own Vicky Bridge is in good company ūüôā

Bridges

Our own Victoria Bridge is in good company. Its designer John Fowler became engineer to the Severn Valley Railway v1 in 1855.

He was a civil engineer specialising in the construction of railways, and in 1853 became chief engineer for the world’s first underground Metropolitan Railway, built with the cut and cover method under the streets (which earned him some ¬£152k, now worth ¬£13.9M), and the District Railway and Hammersmith and City Railway – now the majority of the Circle Line.

During his training he worked on the Aire and Calder Navigation, and the London and Brighton Railway with John Rastrick. With George Leather he was resident engineer on the Stockton and Hartlepool Railway, and appointed its engineer when it opened in 1841.

His client list included the Great Northern, the Highland, the Cheshire Lines, the East Lincs, and the OW&W. After I K Brunel’s death in 1859 he was retained by the Great Western Railway. His designs include London Victoria Station, Sheffield Victoria, Glasgow St Enoch, Liverpool Central, and Manchester Central where the 64m wide train shed roof was the second widest unsupported iron arch in Britain (after the roof of St Pancras).

His bridge designs include Grosvenor in the 1860s, the first railway bridge over the River Thames, and the 13-arch Dollis Brook Viaduct.

Our own Victoria Bridge was constructed 1859-61, and the near identical Edward Albert Bridge in nearby Coalbrookdale 1863-64.

When the Tay Bridge collapsed in 1879, Fowler and his partners Barlow and Harrison were appointed in 1881 to a commission to review the Bouch’s design for the Forth Bridge.

The recommendation was a steel cantilever, designed by Fowler and Baker, constructed 1883-1890. After its successful completion, Fowler was created a Baronet. Sir John Fowler 1st Baronet

Victoria Bridge on SVRWiki

Opening the view

This vista from the Castle Walk dates back a while but does reveal the imposing position that the station was built on to create a prominent scene.

One of the facets of the restoration and redevelopment scheme was to open up the view again, and the work carried out by qualified volunteers back in 2015 has resulted in expansive views opened up from the front of the station across the high and low towns.

Since this clearance, the scene has changed a lot more – to be covered in a future post.

Book the coving

The annual repaint of the booking hall involves a lot of sandpaper and filler and paint. But way back in 2010-11 a much more significant rebuild was needed.

In the outer lobby the ceiling was stripped back for the timbers to be treated and the window frames were replaced. As Bridgnorth station is grade II listed, this required relevant permissions, and appropriate grades of timber and design.

Then in 2012 a reworking of the booking office space resulted in the L-shaped corridor to the back office, around a smaller self-contained ticket office for better security.

We take great care of our heritage architecture here, and the internal finishes have to be in keeping. So how do you fit coving to where it’s missing…? You make it yourself, taking the pattern from a retrieved piece to create a template. We were very fortunate at the time to have in our number a time-served builder and other willing trades. Colin and Robin were a fabulous double-act and greatly appreciated.

Annual booking

booking hall stripped for painting

Every winter closure brings our booking hall its annual date with sandpaper and paint brushes. The same team plan and carry out the process – Stephen, Ann, Chris – taking pride in making the first impression for our passengers the best possible one.

plaster damage

As the station dates back to 1862, it’s not surprising that weather has taken its toll on the stability of the internal plaster. Each year this gets patched very gently – too rough and more falls off – to give the smoothest surface for a fresh coat of buttermilk, chosen to be warm and bright, and dark chocolate gloss.

plaster damage by platform doors
repairs to damaged plaster
looking toward the main entrance doors facing the town
primer on the platform doors
patching and priming on the outer lobby window reveal
where it wasn’t painted last time, under the wonderful mounted map

It takes many weeks to complete the whole process – each layer of plaster, primer, topcoat, takes a long time to dry – and the team are only available on Saturdays, but gradually it all comes together.

getting smarter…
getting there…
lots of drying time now needed…

With the longer closure this year, a more thorough job has been possible. The ‘after’ pictures will look very smart!

Unwrapping

In recent days we’ve been getting a better impression of how the south end of our station will look when the new build is complete.

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The scaffolding removal from most of the structure has unwrapped the view and better shown the handsome brickwork and design features previously hidden.

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The floor has been screeded following the laying of underfloor heating.

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First fix of mechanical and electrical works is underway.

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The new services room created by combining the former disabled toilet and adjacent volunteers shower, our IT/Telecom volunteer team have commenced the installation of a large amount of impressive hardware.

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On Wednesday Western Power Distribution will be transferring us on to the new power supply, through the cables laid by the contractor, and terminating the existing inadequate supply. For a few hours early in the morning we will be without power while this is carried out, but effort is being made to minimise the disruption by close liaison between our stationmaster (handily qualified in HV power) and the contractors.

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It has been nice to hear admiring comments from visitors and passengers alike as the oh-so long awaited new facility is getting nearer to handover.

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Inevitably our much loved station has been swathed in builders supplies and waste, and we’ve had to coax our existing facilities into keeping going for just a few weeks and months more, patching up and making do as best we can.

 

 

 

 

Looking the part

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How exciting it is, to have a nice Sunday spring evening just after the roof slates are complete, awaiting the last arrival, and so the station is clear for a view from platform 2. Across the tracks it is clear to admire what is becoming a very handsome building which will greet passengers on our incoming trains.

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The artist’s impressions are coming to reality. They did of course only show the external appearance, so we have no idea what to expect from the inside¬†other than what we can glean from the floor plan.

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