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Alton Eastbrooke & Wooteys Residents' Association

Save our historic railway bridge

By John Field Alton Eastbrooke & Wooteys Residents' Association

Friday, 21 October 2016

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Alton Eastbrooke & Wooteys Residents' Association Contributor

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An open letter from Gile Lock

 

AN OPEN EMAIL FROM ALTON . HAMPSHIRE . UK

 

Please take some time to read this email; we really need your help to save our HERITAGE RAILWAY FOOTBRIDGE

 

To:

 

The Honourable Judith Guichon, OBC - Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia

 

Mark Carne – CEO, Network Rail UK – (Mark has replied via his office PA today)

 

And all other interested, affected and supportive parties copied into this communication.

 

OVERVIEW

 

The historic Victorian rail footbridge at Alton Station, built with pine sourced from British Columbia, was opened to the public in 1892. It is the last bridge of its type anywhere in the world but is now in imminent danger of being ripped down. The bridge has been in use for the past 125 years but was recently closed to the public with Network Rail now not willing to carry out the required repairs or fund its upkeep.

 

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?

 

Alton is the ‘Gateway to the South Downs National Park’ and is a tourist hot spot for the region. The heritage footbridge is part of the group of Victorian buildings that form Alton Station and signifies ‘arrival’ into Alton Station itself. Regular users of the station view it as ‘coming home’ when the bridge comes into sight.

 

The Heritage Steam Mid Hants Railway, The Watercress Line, operates from Alton Station and the footbridge is a vital physical link between the past and present.

 

This little bridge is the very last one of the 26 built that survives today; for this reason alone it is remarkable and deserves our care and attention. Please don’t smash it down Mr. Carne; it’s important to our town.

 

WHAT CAN BE DONE?

 

A simple yet clever design, the bridge has stood the test of time but now requires some works to make it safe for general use once more.

 

My appeal to Mark Carne CEO at Network Rail is for Network Rail to properly enter into meaningful dialogue with the supporters group so that a solution can be found to save our heritage bridge. To date we feel that our efforts to communicate have been perhaps deliberately frustrated; I hope that’s not really the case?

 

My appeal to The Honourable Judith Guichon, OBC - Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia is simple – please could you look into re-establishing tourism links with the Councils of Alton and the prospect of a ceremonial donation of the timbers required to repair our bridge? A good news tourism based story for both sides of ‘the pond’.

 

My appeal to East Hants District Council, to Hampshire County Council, to Alton Town Council and to the South Downs National Park Authority is to please vocally SUPPORT us in our fight to save the Heritage Footbridge at Alton Station. Please open up dialogue between your various organisations and Network Rail.

 

My appeal to Local and National Journalists – Please help in any way that you can to raise the profile of our fight to save this special bridge! We would love to welcome the BBC to cover our story and our unrelenting fight to save this bridge.

 

-------------------------------------------------

 

I believe that with the support and a willing attitude from all parties involved that a solution to save the bridge can be found, that it can stand for another 125 years for future generations to enjoy, to use and to marvel at.

 

The simple answer is to tear it down and to scrap it which is the route that Network Rail will take if given the chance. But when it’s gone it’s gone for good and it would be a travesty to allow this to happen; IT CAN AND MUST BE SAVED!

 

Thank you for taking the time to read this email. Please take action by replying to Stephen Lewis (secretary@altonchamber.co.uk), by signing the on-line petitions in the links below and by making every possible effort to save the Alton Station Heritage Footbridge.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Giles Lock

 

Local Resident & Employer

Contact Information

John Field

  • 07711962003

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