Swindon’s original railway station building, the iconic Box Tunnel near Corsham and a number of bridges in North Wiltshire are among more than 40 historic railway structures on the Great Western main line to be safeguarded by the Government.
The stone building, pictured right, on Swindon station’s island platform, which opened in 1842 and now houses the waiting room and café area, has been listed at Grade II along with the 1.83-mile long Box Tunnel, regarded as one of the most extensive and famous of the pioneering Great Western Tunnels. Construction of the tunnel started in 1836 and when, opened in 1841, it was the longest railway tunnel in the world.
Among the bridges listed at Grade II are the Roman Road Bridge in Swindon (1839-40), which has an unusual rounded arch design thought to be a conscious reference to antiquity by Brunel, Potley Lane Bridge, (1836-41), Green Bridge (1839-41),and Dauntsey Road Bridge.
In total 35 new listings and seven previously-listed structures along Brunel’s London Paddington to Bristol Temple Meads line – one of the most important railways in the world – are included in the upgrade by the Department for Culture Media and Sport.
Heritage minister John Penrose said: “Our railways and the historic buildings that go along with them are a wonderful and emotive part of our national heritage, symbolising for many of us a sense of romance, history and adventure. And nowhere more so, perhaps, than on the Great Western Railway. I am very pleased to be able to give these buildings, bridges and tunnels the extra protection that listing provides.”
Emily Gee, head of designation at English Heritage, which recommended the structures following extensive consultation with railway heritage and conservation groups, said: “This scale of consultation on designation cases is unusual for English Heritage and we were delighted with the thoughtful responses we received from railway history experts, local authorities and other heritage bodies. I am also impressed by Network Rail’s commitment to respecting the special structures in their care. We certainly hope to do more of this kind of partnership working with protection outcomes under our National Heritage Protection Plan.”
Network Rail route managing director Patrick Hallgate added: “The Great Western railway is undergoing the biggest investment since it was built in order to deliver faster and more reliable journeys for passengers. The results of the consultation carried out by English Heritage, and supported by Network Rail, provide an important step forward in modernising this historic rail route. It enables us to make informed decisions and, critically, protect sensitive structures whilst delivering major improvement work.”