Camberley views No.3: Extra information uncovered

Before writing, yesterday, about the buidings on the Southern stretch of Park Street in Camberley I should have looked at Mary Ann Bennett’s book Camberley – A History. Heck, I’ve a signed copy in our bookcase.

I’ve looked in the index for Park Street Stores and about Witwood, and have discovered useful additional information.

Firstly about Witwood.  On page 57 of her book, Mary Ann describes how building company Spear & King plus local bricklayer Mark Jacobs were responsible for erecting most of the houses in the Gordon Road area. Mary Ann continues,

The most impressive, Witwood, built in Park Street in 1898 for Major Crawford was designed by the eminent architect Sir Edwin Lutyens.

I think it looks more modern than having been built in 1898.

On page 98, of Camberley – A History, there’s this excellent photo of the Park Street Post Office and general store in 1950s, when owned by the Alborough family.

Camberley views No.3: Southern part of Park Street

Park Street in Camberley is split into two. There’s the town centre shopping, leisure and eating part that runs from London Road to Pembroke Broadway, and then there’s the more architecturally interesting stretch that runs from Pembroke Broadway to Park Road.

This short stretch of road from Pembroke Broadway to Park Road is the subject of my third in the series of Camberley views. There are buildings of historic and architectural interest, though only one, Witwood, is recognised in the Council’s List of Historic Buildings in Surrey Heath.

From Pembroke Broadway to the railway bridge the buildings are nondescript, perhaps excepting the one by the bridge with the unusual upper level window treatment.

Beyond the railway bridge there are four Victorian/Edwardian houses. While they are of “humble”, two-storey proportions, they never the less have interesting string courses and detailing in blue engineering bricks.

Immediately past these houses is a building occupied by a kitchen design and showroon. This was once Park Street Stores of which I’ve located photos of it in 1921 and 1979. Though it’s been modernised at the ground floor level, it is essentially unchanged over the years. Here are photos that show that [click on images to expand].

Further down the road toward Park Road we have a much admired Lutyens-designed house. I’ve written about Witwood, and show photos of it below, [again, click on image to expand].

Here are the photos of the other buildings on Park Street, which is pleasingly densely tree lined, The telephone exchange is the least atractive building.

Strange times, protection needed for Nelson’s Column

Strange times indeed when the statue of Admiral Nelson, atop his column, in Trafalgar Square is considered to be under threat of removal. Can’t believe this will happen. Just in case, here’s a photo history of the statue and column.

UPDATE: I wrote about the history surrounding Nelson’s column HERE.

Looking inside the largest working mechanical signal box in the world

Among the many TV programmes about railways, there a a couple that I look forward to watching, none more so that Tim Dunn’s programme The Architecture The Railways Built. It’s an hour long programme on the Yesterday Channel, in which it uncovers some fascinating architectural railway gems in the UK and in Europe.

One place that Tim Dunn promised to visit and describe is the Severn Bridge Junction Signal Box at Shrewsbury Railway Station. That visit was in yesterday evening’s episode  – Series 1, Episode 7. My fascination about the signal box is that I’ve been past in, by train, numerous times, and often wondered about it, and why it was so large.  Below the photo of Tim Dunn and the Signal Box, I’ve written a little about it’s history and list some of the sources of information about it.

From a Network Rail website article on the signal box, it states,

The grade II-listed building houses 180 levers, all dating from 1903. The box doesn’t just embody a rare tradition, it continues to perform a vital function on a modern railway. Severn Bridge Junction, which opened in 1904, will remain open for the foreseeable future.

[The origins of the box are from] two railway operating companies – the London & North Western Railway and the Great Western Railway – worked together to build five lines converging at Shrewsbury despite rivalry between them. They competed to connect South Wales’s coal and materials supplies with the industrialised regions of the Midlands and North West, and to transport passengers between Liverpool and London.

Sources of information about the signal box

Working on submissions for Heritage Listing of milestones

Preparing submissions to Historic England for Grade II listing of our milestones in Surrey Heath is what I promised my chums a while ago. In a recent reminder from them about progress on this endeavour, I admitted there’d been no progress. Consumed with guilt, I’ve now begun the task.

None of the ten milestones in Surrey Heath have any protection from development, whether from changes to roads layout, or from removal through development. The photos show the damage to the milestone by Camberley Glass on the A30 in Camberley. This is what can happen, applying for Historic England heritage protection can save this happening to the others.

The milestones were erected from the mid 1700’s through to the early 1800’s by turnpike trusts, who were bodies set up by individual acts of Parliament, with powers to collect road tolls for maintaining the principal roads in Britain from the 17th but especially during the 18th and 19th centuries.

We have three turnpike trusts involved in erecting milestones in Surrey Heath. There’s the Bedfont to Bagshot Turnpike Trust responsible for the A30 road up to the Jolly Farmer {now American Golf}. Then we have the Basingstoke, Hartfordbridge, and Blackwater Trust responsible for the A30 from Bagshot onwards to Basingstoke. Finally there’s the Bagshot to Farnham Turnpike Trust on the A325 from Bagshot’s Jolly Farmer out to Farnham.

Four of the milestones on the A30 are over 270 years old, They begin at the one opposite Hillier Garden Centre, through to the one at Jenkins’ Hill in Bagshot. These are made from Portland stone, are six feet high and one and a half feet wide. They were ordered by the Bedfont and Bagshot Turnpike Trust in 1743 from Chertsey mason Stephen Hart. Most of them have been moved over time, though none too far from their original location.

Each of our ten milestones needs its own submission to Historic England, who are the public body that champions and protects England’s historic places. This is a time consuming job, and as such blog posting will be limited until I finish this task.

The Obelisk in Camberley Park is, thankfully, free of modern graffiti

A comment on this blog from Les Christian says that “I should get out more”, which is what I did yesterday. Visiting friends, Camberley Library, and the Obelisk in Camberley Park. Hope this counts as getting out.

I say that the Obelisk in Camberley Park is free from modern graffiti, though not from the historic kind. The modern kind is almost always crude, and aims to despoil, while historic graffiti is more subtle.

Successful work to clear trees and scrub from the side of the Obelisk has provided a view over Camberley. The modern graffiti has been removed, such that it’s now pleasant to arrive at the Obelisk from the Camberley Park path.

In the 19th century, cadets from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst ventured up to the Obelisk, and left their marks, carving their names, or platoons, into a brick. Their marks were clearly picked out in the late afternoon sun. Dates of 1858, 1888 could be seen. I’m sure someone has researched all the names, because their are many of them. How true it is I don’t know that Winston Churchill’s inscription can be seen on a brick on the inside of the Obelisk.

Here are my photos of the visit. Click on an image to expand.

Visiting the historic wind tunnels in Farnborough

Some readers may have heard of the wind tunnels in Farnborough. Even fewer will have seen them, as they were in the secret Royal Aircraft Establishment [RAE]. The UK has a proud history in the development of wind tunnels. Recently we visited two of the preserved historic wind tunnels in Farnborough.

A wind tunnel is used to help solve the aerodynamics issues of aircraft and aircraft components. A smooth and stable flow of air is passed over a scale model of an aircraft, or, a whole aircraft where the wind tunnel is large enough. A variety of measurements are then observed and recorded. Aircraft wing design has been and remains one of the important uses of wind tunnels.

Having covered what they are, we can get down to the historic wind tunnels. The RAE, and its predecessors at Farnborough, played a central role in the development of aviation in the UK, and its wind tunnels were a key part of that role. The RAE closed in 1993, with its research work being part privatised. The Farnborough Air Sciences Trust [FAST] was established to save the heritage of the RAE and its wind tunnels.

There are three wind tunnel buildings in Farnborough, known as R52, Q121, and R133. Only the first two can be visited with asbestos in R133 limiting access. The buildings remain as they were when last used over 20 years ago.

The R52 building dates from 1911 and is Grade 1 listed. It originally housed two 7-foot wind tunnels. Both are now gone, though one is now located at the University of Southampton, in their place is a ‘low turbulence’ 4 x 3 foot tunnel built in 1946.

Iconic is a much misused word, though can be applied to the Q121 building, which is recognisable to all who pass by. Again it’s Grade 1 listed. Never have I known what went on inside. Now I know. It houses the 24 foot wind tunnel. Actually, the whole building is the wind tunnel. It was opened in 1935 and remained in use until 1996.

The wind tunnels are not open to the general public. Tours of the wind tunnels are by pre-arrangement, last for around 2.5 hours, and a group of no more than 20.  Wind tunnels remain important for aeronautical research, as the March 2018 article The future role of wind tunnels in test and development in Aerospace Testing International magazine.

Here are a few photos of the buildings, and their wind tunnels.

FAST Museum houses historic aviation collection

I’ve got a touch behind in articles here. Last week we visited the FAST Museum in Farnborough – properly known as the Farnborough Air Sciences Trust Museum. There were two aspects to our visit, with the Camberley and District Probus Club, in the morning to the FAST Museum, and an afternoon visit to the historic Wind Tunnels.

Firstly about our museum visit. I’ll write about the wind tunnel visit later. If you haven’t visited the FAST Museum, you’re missing a treat. The museum is packed full of historic aviation material, be it photographs, aircraft engines, space rockets satellites, flight simulators, and historic military and civil aircraft, all available with accompanying knowledgeable museum volunteers.

The museum is open on Saturdays, Sundays and bank holiday Mondays from 10.0am till 4.0pm, with entry being free. I’m ashamed to admit not having previously visited the museum, though having frequently passed by it on the A325. Funny isn’t it, it’s the attractions nearest to you that don’t get visited.

The old-looking white building housing the Museum is historic itself. Known as Trenchard House, named in commemoration of Lord Trenchard’s work in the creation of the RAF. FAST say about the building that it,

…. is the earliest building on the historic Farnborough aviation site. It was built in 1907 by the Royal Engineers to be the headquarters of their Balloon School and it is one of the oldest aviation related buildings in the country.

The FAST Museum volunteers created the Cody Pavillion, containing a full-sized replica of the British Army’s Aeroplane No1A, alongside a gallery of photographs about Samuel F Cody’s colourful life, all marking his achievement in the first successful powered aeroplane flight in the UK.  Here are a few photos of our visit,