Thursday 24 March 2016

Episode 1 - Culham station is at Culham Station ...

... some distance from Culham.
The Culham Station Overbridge carries Station Road, Culham over the Didcot Junction to Oxford railway branch line. This was one of the early branch lines to the Great Western Railway, built in 1844 and terminating at the now demolished Western Road, Grandpoint Station, Oxford.
The main road from Abingdon has been rebuilt and re-aligned, so beyond the listed bridge is the new A415, leaving the station on its own little road siding.

But the original overbridge is a grade II listed building.

The original Brunel design station building still stands, although it is no longer in railway use.
Between Culham Station and the village of Clifton Hampden was a WW2 airfield

The railway line runs from upper left to bottom centre.

The airfield opened in late 1944 as an Aircraft Receipt and Despatch Unit for the Royal Navy, and was known as HMS Hornbill. Culham was used principally to train reservists based in the Thames Valley region, with 1832 Sqn commissioned for this purpose.

Trainees taught to fly various marks of Seafires, Sea Furys and Harvards.
Seafire, a naval version of the Spitfire

Culham began to wind down in 1953, and in July of that year flying training moved to nearby Benson. HMS Hornbill ceased as a Unit on 30 Sep 1953, and the Admiralty used the airfield as a storage facility.

In 1960, the airfield was handed over to the Atomic Energy Commission, which has been on site since then.

It is now the Culham Science Park.
The former airfield has a wide mixture of "stuff", ranging from light industrial units to some high-tech and futuristic research and development businesses.

Here is, for example, The Culham Centre for Fusion Technology.

This the site of the Joint European Torus (JET), Mega Ampere Spherical Tokamak (MAST) and the now closed Small Tight Aspect Ratio Tokamak (START).

You were taught in maths that a torus was a ring doughnut - some doughnut!

a Tokamak?

Formerly known as UKAEA Culham, the laboratory was renamed in October 2009 as part of organisational changes at its parent body, the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority.

Since September 2008 the director has been Professor Steven Cowley, and the centre has been engaged in work towards the final detailed design of ITER as well as preparatory work in support of DEMO.

In 2014 it was announced the centre would house the new RACE (Remote Applications in Challenging Environments)

And you are quite right; fbb does not have the faintest idea what all this means. But we are all familiar with a Tokamak, aren't we? fbb is old enough to remember a Pakamac ...
... the raincoat in your pocket. And, boy oh boy, was it sweaty inside one.

But, our readers may be wondering, why this flummery about Culham?

Last weekend, as part of a family visit to see Grandson as Gaston in Beauty and the Beast ...
... the fbb's took Bed and Breakfast at the Railway Inn Culham Station.
Station is left : Railway Inn is right

Thus it was that on the Saturday, after a healthy and out of focus breakfast ...
... fbb obtained per from the authority to explore the station and watch the trains go by. He did not have far to walk. The station is unstaffed and is served by Class 165 diesel units, once known as Thames Turbos.

Needless to say, being a modern twiddly web site, GWR are reticent about letting us find a timetable.
But "journey information" revealed another clutch of clickable boxes, one of which looked hopeful.
There was a list with three options for an Oxford service, which destination was gleaned from a sign on the platform saying "Platform 1 for trains to Oxford".
It was the "stopping service" that was required ...
... showing a (sort of) two hourly service. (There is nothing between 0933 and 1336 towards Oxford).

But plenty else to enjoy, even if counting passenger numbers boarding and alighting would involve too much commitment, even for fbb.

More tomorrow.

 Next Culham blog : Thursday 24th March 
Lamb for Easter - or maybe Goat?
As Moses and the Israerlites struggled to make their way to the Promised Land, they were provided with laws and regulations to prepere them for the transition from nomadic hunter-gatherers to being a "civilised" and structured society. In addition to the core Ten Commandments" a whole range of ritual was put in place.

Here the Priest is laying his hands on the head of a goat.
In an act of Atonemant (making the people "at one" with God) the corporate sins of society were laid upon the animal who was then ...
... ushers out into the desert wilderness as a "visual aid" of the removal of the sins and a fresh start.

Again, the "sacrificed" animal "saved the people".

Of course, the original (e)scapegoat.

1 comment:

  1. Forget the official websites. I always go for the unofficial, but highly reliable www.reatimetrains. it contains freight trains too!