Monday, April 25, 2022

Great Malvern, Worcestershire

The Worm

Years ago, when I started this blog, Great Malvern station was one of the buildings I wanted to include. Its combination of impressive sandstone masonry, typical of its architect E. W. Elmslie, and ornate ironwork makes it one of my favourite stations. But back then, there was one feature of this station I did not know about. My recent photograph shows the view towards the tracks from the railway bridge in Avenue Road, close to the station. Next to the tracks, and curving away from them, is a structure of masonry, wood and corrugated iron. It’s a walkway linking Platform 2 with the building that was the Imperial Hotel, on the other side of the road.*

This extraordinary passage – which as far as I know is unique – was a concession to visitors, because you do not come to the West of England for the weather and there is a good chance of getting rained on if you leave the station and cross the road to your hotel. It’s wet here in the West, so if you were more hoity-toity than hoi polloi, you could get straight off your train and walk the short distance to your hotel without getting wet. This direct route is also quicker than going out of the main entrance and doubling back before crossing the road. Exclusivity, comfort, and convenience, Great Malvern Station offered it all.

The locals would look down from the bridge (as visitors travelling through it did not) and marvel at the elegance of its corrugated iron roof, with its slight curving dip towards the eaves. With its clever use of the flexible quality of corrugated iron, combined with the ornate cresting on top and the ornamental supporting framework beneath, it might have made them proud. But they had a sense of humour, and coined a nickname for the posh passengers’ pathway: they called it ‘the worm’.

It must be at least 50 years since the worm has been used, during which time the hotel closed, its building taken over by a school. Rusty and largely unregarded, the structure clings on, amid periodic schemes to restore it. It’s listed, so there’s hope. Long may the worm wriggle.

- - - - -

*The hotel and bridge are by Elmslie too.


Joseph Biddulph (Publisher) said...

I'm sorry, out of all the great buildings in Great Malvern, you pick on this one! There must be a dozen right near the station that make me very happy. I find this one singularly unattractive, and corrugated iron is such a miserable material once it starts to decay - as inevitably (in a rainy climate) it must. Listed it may be, but in this case I think there's a strong case for demolition.

hazelnicholson said...

The Architecture The Railways Built filmed inside the passage.