Saturday, December 17, 2016
Sun, steam, and seeds
A search for a garden centre in Ross-on-Wye took the Resident Wise Woman and me to the the edge of the town, following green signs through an industrial estate. Having passed the modern sheds of the industrial estate, we arrived to find the garden centre partly housed in another kind of shed, a 19th-century engine shed built for the Great Western Railway. It’s in the very robust-looking mode that the GWR often used – chunky local stone, big segmental relieving arches, and a generous arch at the end (barely visible through the branches), that has been narrowed (when the railway switched from Brunel’s favoured broad gauge to standard gauge) and then filled in. Inside is a roof with a raised centre, held up with some very substantial timbers. The building seems to work well in its new use.
The engine shed looks isolated from its historical roots now, but this part of Ross was once dominated by the railway. The nearby station served both the Hereford, Ross and Gloucester Railway and, from 1873, the Ross and Monmouth Railway. The station, goods yard, and coal yards have all gone (closed between 1959 and 1964), leaving this train shed, a nearby goods shed, and some bridge piers. An idea of the station can be had from Kidderminster station on the Severn Valley Railway, the design of which was based on the one at Ross. Strange to think, when standing among the shrubs and Christmas decorations in the garden centre (or when passing the premises of the likes of Messrs Screwfix up the road) that from near here you could catch a train to Gloucester, Hereford, or the Homerically named station of Monmouth Troy.*
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*Monmouth Troy station was named after Troy House, near Monmouth. After it closed it was eventually dismantled and moved stone by stone to Winchcombe, Gloucestershire, where it forms part of the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway.