Society's Newsletter April 2013  


(Albrighton, Boningale, Donington-with-Boscobel and Tong)

Civic Society Public Meeting held on 8th April. The meeting was very well attended by about 150 people which showed the great degree of interest in the railway station, both its history and the current refurbishment and restoration now underway. The meeting was first addresses by Honorary Civic Society Life Member Ernie Howells who provided a fascinating historical review of the rail line since its beginnings some 164 years ago and detailed Albrighton station’s development as part of the Birmingham to Shrewsbury line and its beneficial effects on our local community. Station was built in 1849 with the footbridge added later in 1885. (If you walk along Station Road and look up at the beams of the bridge carrying the rail line you will see that the date stamped on the beams is 1848, when they were made ready for installation the following year).

Dave Rogers, Project Manager, Network Rail (NR) then brought us right up to date starting with a brief summary of the national situation:- 20,000 miles of track, 40,000 bridges & tunnels, 17 major stations and 2,500 other stations (Albrighton is one of them) 1,300 million journeys and 100 million tonnes of freight transported annually; 1 million more trains run now than 5 years ago; over the next 30 years passenger demand is expected to more than double. Now focussing on Albrighton he reminded us that since 1984 the station and the footbridge has been Grade II listed which means any repairs and refurbishment are to be done while maintaining its original appearance, something the Civic Society and Historical Society are keen to support. Dave then went on to identify the deficiencies and damage now seen at the station:- the step onto the train from the current platform level is too large; the station building on platform 1 (the “to Wolverhampton” platform), still owned by NR, is deteriorating; uneven platforms; serious corrosion of the footbridge, missing Great Western Railway signs (including the date 1883 sign) from the footbridge; worn out stair treads and canopy of the footbridge. He confirmed that repair and restoration of all these defects were included in the work now being carried out and in addition new and more aesthetically pleasing fences at the back of platforms were being erected, drains were renewed, new flashing between canopy and building on platform 2 to be installed and reinstatement of the long gone chimneys on the building on platform 1.

Keith Werson, Site Agent May Gurney Contractors (MG), then provided detailed information on how this work is being done. Additional brickwork and new platform surfacing, with foot-tactile marks for the visually impaired, are being installed to raise the platform levels making it easier to step on and off the trains; new drains installed along all platforms to intercept rain water; brickwork to building on platform 1 is being repaired. He showed a video of the footbridge being dismantled from its support stairways and a 130 tonne crane coming during the night to lift the bridge out as a single piece – it is now in a factory in Wolverhampton where the corroded metal is being replaced and the whole bridge re-painted and its original signs/livery reinstated.

Peter Woodman then provided an update of the Civic Society’s attempt to rescue the old station master’s building on platform 2 (the “to Shrewsbury” platform) and to turn it into a centre for Local Museum/Arts & Crafts/Tourist Information Point. The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has asked us to provide more evidence of local support and some local funding to supplement anything awarded by HLF. Peter asked for Pledges of money from residents which would only be called on if we gain the HLF money. We were amazed to collect in signed pledges amounting to about £1000 which demonstrated significant support for the project – we are very grateful to all who contributed and due to that success we will pursue the pledges with other people in the coming months. Sarah Baker said that the Society had contacted many local companies and individuals, in the arts/craft field, to ask for their involvement in the Centre which will be available for them to display their wares for sale and act as their shop front. For more details please see the article in this magazine.

The Q&A session was very popular with many questions and support for the refurbishment work. The Civic Society had proposed that the temporary access ramp to platform 1 be retained after the footbridge is returned to provide easier access for elderly, disabled and mums with prams. Melville Club, Tuesday Toddlers Group and Albrighton Medical Practice have confirmed their backing. The matter is supported by Albrighton Parish Council and Shropshire Cllr Malcolm Pate. At a show of hands, there was one person against its retention and all the approx 150 others for it. Cllr Pate has asked Shropshire Council (SC) to examine what needs to be done at the adjacent road/footpath and asked that the temporary ramp not be removed after the footbridge is returned in a few weeks, to allow SC time to deal with the road work issue (if necessary its ends could be closed off to prevent use until the road/footpath matter is settled). Network Rail were kind enough to consider the local feelings for its retention and said they would seriously review the matter and report back.

Mrs Sian Roberts of Station Road complained about two matters, which she had previously spoken to NR and MG about but she raised them again at the meeting:- firstly that she had not received adequate notice before and during the work period. Dave Rogers said that notices had been sent out and that if they were problems with them he apologised. Secondly Mrs Roberts complained that the work was done at night and she was disturbed by noise. Dave Rogers was sorry about the disturbance and they had minimised it but that all repair work on railways had to be done at night when trains were not running so that the station and line could remain open during the day for passengers. Mr Shimmonds of Station Rd also complained about the noise at night. Dave Rogers and Keith Werson both expressed sympathy for the disruption and explained that night working was usual on railways and that after previous discussions with Mr Shimmons and Mrs Roberts further measures had been taken to further minimise noise - such as moving materials during the day to secondary compounds near the work, switching off the safety bleeper which sounds when site vehicles reverse, switching off the amber flashing safety lights on vehicles, switching off the engines of vehicles during periods of inactivity. No other complaints from the almost 150 other people there were raised. (Following the meeting some residents commented that they felt that the two complainants were not representative of most residents who understood that night work was necessary and supported NR and MG’s efforts to refurbish our Station, which was greatly needed as a village asset).

The Chairman presented Civic Society Life Membership Certificates to Dave Rodgers, Keith Werson and Rob Marshall (Contracts Manager May Gurney) which was greeted with much applause and congratulations by a very large audience.

The Civic Society thanks the many people who worked hard to arrange and run the meeting including the Red House staff, NADFAS who provided the PA system and Ian Watson who twiddled its knobs all night to make sure it worked well, Paul Joseland, Bob Hickson, Dave Turner & Dave Warner. We thank all the speakers who made the evening a success but most of all we thank everyone who came, for their interest & support for our station – the village needs it.


For more information please see www or contact:
Peter Woodman –Chairman ((: 01902 372225) 31/32 High St or Rod Smith -Secretary ((: 01902 372765)