ST Modwen continue to block the erection of the WW1 Wolverton Works War Memorial despite being a listed company capitalised by share value of around £885million
From Andrew McLean, Head Curator of the National Railway Museum
Wolverton Works was established in 1838 and by 1907 was the largest railway building and repair works in Britain. Wolverton was one of the first Railway towns and connected to some of Britain’s most significant figures in the 19th century, including Robert Stephenson and Lord Wolverton of Glyn’s Bank fame.
It is the UK town most closely connected to the Royal Train, and some of these Wolverton carriages, amongst the World’s most significant and influential rail vehicles, are in the National Collection based at the National Railway Museum.
Wolverton played a significant role in building, maintaining and repairing military vehicles and Ambulance Trains in both World Wars, and was home to Britain’s last steam tramway.
The site presents significant evidential, historical and communal value, all recognised core conservation principles and collectively, the remaining Wolverton Works buildings are an incredibly important survival.
Many of the most significant losses to Britain’s Built-heritage in the past half century have been railway sites - now much lamented. But with recent developments at St Pancras and King’s Cross, plus smaller developments such as at Stirling and Hexham, that position has changed.
There is clear evidence that a sensitively handled re-development of former railway buildings can become an important and attractive asset, acting as a catalyst of significant social and economic regeneration.
Wolverton has already lost some of its buildings. I believe that those now at risk should be looked at again in the context of a changing and deeper understanding of Britain’s railway and royal heritage.
I would add that:
Wolverton Works is the oldest longest continuously open railway works in the World. The UK’s newest railway works near Darlington, opened last year by Hitachi, follows a similar layout and operational working methods to Wolverton.
My 9 professional assignments inside Wolverton Works, ranging from assessing the Royal Train 19 years ago to being asked to write the 175th anniversary book in 2013 has given me a unique Wolverton insight.
The G L Hearn Wolverton Works Employment Assumption is factually incorrect as clearly demonstrated in my 8 October objection, using photographs to literally illustrate my points.
Employment has quadrupled to 490 and in the last month, the Lifting Shop cranes have been brought back into use and the traversers upgraded. The new proposed Works design will include traversers and require higher levels of internal vehicle shunting than now.
The assertion that Knorr-Bremse will relocate without new buildings is also factually incorrect. Earlier this year, Knorr-Bremse’s Nick Brailey told me we will not relocate if we have to keep using the existing buildings.
The application is factually incorrect, against planning policy W3 and therefore should be refused or deferred.
Some random images from over the years. The Wheelshop which has just lost 20 jobs and gone on to one shift working instead of three-shift working. The 1993 Open Weekend saw steam back in the Works and the first to work iver the West Coast Main Line back to Willesden since around 1966. The Three Wolverton Works' L&T shunters official pic from the 1950s.
The Royal Train Shed under renovation and the Grade 2 star listed Sytephenson bridge being renovated in 2007.
Now another view gone forever, the site of the Lidl supermarket and the East Repair Shop. Various shunter moves with a Class 313 arriving from the diveunder, tgravelling back to the Works by the original 1838 buildings when they were being renovated and Anglia carriages on the way to New Zealand.