Saturday, December 17, 2016

Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire

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.


Joe Treasure said...

Years ago, among the archives in Monmouth School library, I came across an account of a ball hit in a school cricket match that landed in an open-topped goods wagon passing by and was retrieved in Ross. This was considered a record. There were other references to the leisurely progress of the trains. Day boys coming down the Wye Valley could jump off, to retrieve possessions thrown out the windows for example, and get back on again while the train was in motion.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Thank you, Joe. I love these cricket and railway stories. I suppose a six was signalled and another ball substituted for the temporarily lost one, but I can't help imagining a comic scenario in which the batsmen keep on running, or another one in which a delayed substitute fielder, stuck on the platform at Ross, is able to retrieve the ball and bring it back to Malvern on a slow train, causing confusion.

bazza said...

Hello Phillip. I am reminded of the shopping outlet in Swindon which is partly housed in an old GWR railway shed. I am certain you will be familiar with it! I seem to remember some old locomotives being on display as well.
With regard to the comment above, I recall and old Marty Feldman sketch when a golfer hits a ball onto a moving coal train and he follows it around the country!
CLICK HERE for Bazza’s fabuous Blog ‘To Discover Ice’

Philip Wilkinson said...

Bazza: Yes. The old GWR sheds are home to a shopping centre, the Steam museum, and offices of Historic England (formerly part of English Heritage). I vaguely remember the Marty Feldman golf ball. Must be a long time ago...poor old Marty died years ago.

Hels said...

These days (my middle age) I quite enjoy 19th century railway architecture, particularly for its historical connections. Even when it was "very robust-looking". I know the connection to Brunel is skimpy, but the station, goods yard and coal yards were real, and train shed, goods shed and some bridge piers are still real. What a shame half of the complex was destroyed - history teachers would have loved taking school children on excursions.