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Subject:Crossrail - Brunel's old railway remnants - picspam
Time:10:09 pm
I went to the industrial archaeology site at Westbourne Park yesterday, fortunately in very nice weather (today has been vile and very cold). Unfortunately it really was a one-day thing, they dug it up over a very short period, and in days the whole site will have to be cleared so that they can lay pilings and foundations for a bus garage, a Tarmac depot, and new tracks. What was actually on show was the foundations of some of the support buildings from Brunel's original railway and its successors.

First, some of the floor of a long wooden shed to the west of the Westbourne Park site, originally designed to hold trains in Brunel's broad gauge, later converted for standard gauge. One track was in front of the fence at the back (which separates the site from the working tracks), another was much closer to me but unfortunately doesn't show well in this photo. The central troughs under each track were for inspection and drainage, since trains were cleaned and washed there. This isn't as clear as I would like, I seem to have lost another that showed things much better better - or I didn't actually take it when I thought I did. The bit with jumbled bricks between the two tracks is apparently left from the demolition of the original shed some time in the early 20th century.


brunel_01_01


Next, the foundations of a railway turntable that served various engine sheds and sidings, which was in the middle of the site. They think that this was for standard gauge trains. Unfortunately there isn't much left apart from the foundations. It was probably turned by hand, using some sort of ratchet system. They think that at some point it was lengthened, which is why there are two circles of foundations for the outer ring of the turntable. The two square structures were added in when the turntable was enlarged; the archaeologist (the guy in the yellow jacket in the second picture) wasn't quite sure what they were for.

brunel_04
brunel_05

Finally, the remains of another engine shed at the west end of the site, this one designed for standard gauge. This was used for servicing and cleaning engines, and everything is blackened by endless showers of sooty water and waste. Any red brick you can see was exposed when this was dug up, because the original surface was completely covered. That also applies to most building in the area of that period, including the front of my house. The metal grid I've shown is a drain, one of the few metal items they've found at the site. The others were a few short bits of broad-gauge track, some broken tools, and a manhole cover, all of which will be going to a railway museum.

brunel_01
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There should eventually be plans and models exhibited, and reconstructions of the buildings. It's a shame that more of the site can't be preserved, but I think even Brunel would prefer there to be a working railway there again.

While these photos may not look incredibly exciting, it was actually quite an interesting visit - there's apparently going to be another site opened to the public early next year at Liverpool Street, concentrating on Roman artifacts etc. they've found, and probably open for a week or two rather than a single day. I'm looking forward to it.

official photos etc. here
http://londonist.com/2014/10/visit-the-remains-of-brunels-railway-at-paddington.php
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ffutures
Link:(Link)
Time:2014-10-07 12:07 am (UTC)
A lot are going to a railway museum, they want to build some sort of structure (didn't catch quite what it was) from authentic period bricks, and some are being given to visitors who requested them (one brick per visitor). I'd imagine the rest will become land fill eventually. Unfortunately they can't just bury it all again, it wouldn't be stable enough since the bus garage is going to be built on a deck over the tracks and they have to put in deep pilings etc.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


gonzo21
Link:(Link)
Time:2014-10-07 12:42 am (UTC)
Pretty cool. But yeah, shame it's all being destroyed. You're right though, at least it's getting a working rail site put back on top of it.

Did they know it was there when they started digging, or was it just a happy co-incidence?
(Reply) (Thread)


ffutures
Link:(Link)
Time:2014-10-07 07:45 am (UTC)
They knew there was probably something there, they didn't know how much was left - since Brunel's time the area has been used for shunting yards, a warehouse, parking for the existing bus garage (the bit they're adding in the rebuild is a very large deck over the track that will be parking for a couple of dozen buses, I was wrong to say it was the actual garage), a Tarmac plant which had to be removed for the Crossrail construction and is now being reinstated, etc. Some of it was dug out and removed, the rest simply buried, they didn't know what was left.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


curiouswombat
Link:(Link)
Time:2014-10-07 07:35 am (UTC)
Fascinating - thank you for showing us.

I think you are right that Brunel would prefer a working railway to bits of preserved brick and rail, too.

Edited at 2014-10-07 07:35 am (UTC)
(Reply) (Thread)


ffutures
Link:(Link)
Time:2014-10-07 07:48 am (UTC)
It'll actually be the first time a main railway line has gone through the north side of the site - previously it has all been shunting, sidings, sheds etc., but Crossrail will be going through there to the tunnel opposite my house.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


rfmcdpei
Link:(Link)
Time:2014-10-08 12:35 pm (UTC)
Wow. Might I link to/share this?
(Reply) (Thread)


ffutures
Link:(Link)
Time:2014-10-08 05:27 pm (UTC)
Sure, but there's a lot more on the crossrail site.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)

chuk_g
Link:(Link)
Time:2014-10-08 05:50 pm (UTC)
These are cool, especially the turntable ones. Thanks for putting it up.
(Reply) (Thread)


ffutures
Link:(Link)
Time:2014-10-08 10:11 pm (UTC)
My pleasure.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)

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