Gemini Rail Services has been formed to operate Wolverton Works and Springburn in Glasgow from November 2018, but closure plans for the latter were announced the following month. Knorr Bremse Rail Services Ltd accounts lodged at Companies House show that a loss in excess of £50million was reported in the five years of their oeration. We wish the new owners of the business every success and Gemini is contacting the local community, a welcome development.
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.
How trains access Wolverton Works from the Centre Sidings from where one of the Works' shunters collect the train and propels it south to the headshunt after going under the West Coast Main Line. It then is pulled under another part of the main line and along the original London & Birmingham Railway alignment alongside McConnel Drive past the original 1838 Works' building and onto the 1889 built former Royal Trainshed. From there the train will enter Haversham Bank sidings and loop. It then reverses round a tight curve and into the Work crossing the Grand Union Canal and through the boundary gate. Half a mile westwards at the other end of the Works is the circular roofed Electrical Test Bay next to the Royal Trainshed.
Below: Inside the Works in May.
The Rose Garden outside the main entrance - note the WW2 camouflage paint and the wheelset by the library in Wolverton. Suitable locations for the War Memorial?