Thursday, 8 December 2022

But Hungerford Is In Berkshire? (2)

Possible whoops!

Maybe the spire behind the market hall (yesterday's blog) was meant to be the Eleanor Cross at Charing Cross and not St Martin in the Fields? Either way, it was grossly out of scale!

The Railway Comes Through the Middle of the House(s)

The South Eastern Railway Company (later adding Chatham to both its network and its name) was desperate to get closer to the throbbing heart of London's popular (and profitable!) West End.

The extension from London Bridge brought a bonus if a footbridge link (originally plus a single line rail link) to the London and South Western Railway at Waterloo.

It was a very expensive line to build because of the amount of property that needed buying up and them demolishing.

The directors chose a decaying site between the Thames and the Strand on land that once contained Lord Hungerford's abortive fruit, veg and fish market.

Brunel's bridge was bashed and the old suspension chains transported to Bristol where they were re-cycled at Clifton.
The new "Hungerford" bridge included a replacement footway, utilitarian rather than attractive, so pedestrians could still walk across the river at that point.
To save a few bob, the new bridge re-used the massive brick bases from the old footbridge.
They can still be seen today.
The station was very grand, as would be expected by the well heeled travellers off for the retail therapy at London's posh stores and restaurants.
It seemed even grander inside - or, at least, the engravings made it look so!
The new terminus opened in 1864; Brunel's beautiful bridge has lasted less than 20 years!

Then in 1905 a significant chunk of the grand arched roof collapsed ...
... causing substantial damage to trains below ...
... and the loss of life. The London List blog summarises the causes.
Whatever the explanation, the S E C R decided not to repair the roof but to rebuild. The new covering was, by comparison, a rather boring ridged construct at a much lower level than the grand arch.
So not quite so opulent for the arriving passengers!
But what remained opulent was the Company's hotel forming the frontage of the station on the Strand.
fbb stayed there for a one-nighter whilst launching the abortive TBC Hotline with Southern Vectis. Memory is vague due to extreme fatigue and a glass or two of Chinese wine in a Chinese noshery before retiring.

It certainly had been "grand" ...
... but back then it seemed a bit "tired". The Company did not pay for breakfast - boo hiss!.
But it is certainly well refurbished now ...
... and it was a twittered picture of the magnificent bar that provoked these blogs.
The hotel is now called "The Clermont Charing Cross" and it does look posh!

Back to the station:-

In 1986, redevelopment began over most of the area above the platforms. The new buildings were named Embankment Place, a postmodern office and shopping complex designed by Terry Farrell and Partners. This development led to the replacement of almost the whole of the 1906 roof. The rear two spans of this structure – immediately adjacent to the existing concourse roof – were retained as part of an enlarged waiting area. 

In addition the original retaining side walls of the station which once supported it remain in near complete condition. 
The works were completed in November 1990. Most of the Embankment Place complex is office space, with a selection of restaurants on the ground floor.
Charing Cross station has changed a bit over the years!

Of course the Hungerford bridge has lost its attached walkway, it being replaced by the double Jubilee bridges, one each side of the railway.
There is a slight sadness here, because, on the old bridge you were level with the rails and there was always a sense of the might and power, even of Southern Region electric trains as the vibrated past your nose!

The Exmoor Explanation
First Bus' Exmoor Coaster runs to a reduced schedule in winter, says David, a correspondent from Minehead.
But the 1600 from Butlins at Minehead is shown as School Holidays Only. That is because the Coaster inter-works with service 10 at Minehead. Service 10 in the winter provides a school times service (not much of one) between Minehead and Porlock Weir,

fbb rode the more extensive summer 10 a few years ago; seen below at the Porlock Weir terminus.

For todays schedule, the bus cannot do the school bit AND start at Butlins at 1600, so it runs light to Lynmouth in which state it was pictured in the mists of mellow fruitfulness above.

One might suggest that the 1710 from Lynmouth could leave later to maintain the three-trip service both ways, but doubtless this would involve some shift pattern/overtime crisis!

So the bus in the picture is running empty from Minehead to Lynmouth. 

Now you know!


 Advent Calendar Day 8 

Holy Help

Forget Moses staggering down Mount Sinai with a couple of curved-top gravestones. Daft idea and totally wrong! The original "decalogue" (meaning ten words) was just that, ten words ...
... and they would easily fit on a couple of today's "palm top" devices, let alone two tablets!
Hebrew is a very compact language with multiple "inflections" so ten short words would do a lot of work.

Also forget the moans of cynics who decry God as being a spoilsport, telling us all what we should not do. The most helpful way for a modern reader to understand the ten commandments (there might have been nine in Hebrew or even eleven or twelve!) is to read the "ten words" like this:- (And you don't need a gothic script font either!)

IF YOU worship only the One true God ...
IF YOU do not create false "gods" to worship
IF YOU do not misuse God's name
IF YOU have a proper day of real rest
IF YOU respect and care for family and friends


YOU WILL NOT want to murder anyone
YOU WILL NOT want to commit adultery
YOU WILL NOT want to steal
YOU WILL NOT want to tell lies
YOU WILL NOT want to desire more than you need

Seems a good plan for life!

The somewhat scary picture of Moses atop Mount Sinai ...
... serves to emphasise that this "covenant", deal between mankind and God, is a serious matter. Break the covenant and you are in trouble!

We do, personally, nationally and internationally - and so we are.

If you want to read a more complete version of the event, but still in today's English, it is printed below.

 Next Cardiff blog : Friday 9th December 

Extract from Exodus Chapter 19

18 All of Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord had come down on it in fire. The smoke went up like the smoke of a furnace, and all the people trembled violently.
19 The sound of the trumpet became louder and louder. Moses spoke, and God answered him with thunder.
20 The Lord came down on the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain. Moses went up.

from Exodus Chapter 20

1 God spoke, and these were his words:
2 "I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt, where you were slaves.
3 "Worship no god but me.
4 "Do not make for yourselves images of anything in heaven or on earth or in the water under the earth.
5 Do not bow down to any idol or worship it, because I am the Lord your God and I tolerate no rivals. I bring punishment on those who hate me and on their descendants down to the third and fourth generation.
6 But I show my love to thousands of generations of those who love me and obey my laws.
7 "Do not use my name for evil purposes, for I, the Lord your God, will punish anyone who misuses my name.
8 "Observe the Sabbath and keep it holy.
9 You have six days in which to do your work,
10 but the seventh day is a day of rest dedicated to me. On that day no one is to work - neither you, your children, your slaves, your animals, nor the foreigners who live in your country.
11 In six days I, the Lord, made the earth, the sky, the seas, and everything in them, but on the seventh day I rested. That is why I, the Lord, blessed the Sabbath and made it holy.
12 "Respect your father and your mother, so that you may live a long time in the land that I am giving you.
13 "Do not commit murder.
14 "Do not commit adultery.
15 "Do not steal.
16 "Do not accuse anyone falsely.
17 "Do not desire another man's house; do not desire his wife, his slaves, his cattle, his donkeys, or anything else that he owns."
18 When the people heard the thunder and the trumpet blast and saw the lightning and the smoking mountain, they trembled with fear and stood a long way off..


  1. First Buses of Somerset is showing an interesting bit of enterprise in keeping the Exmoor Coaster running throughout the winter.
    From looking at the timetables, it seems the bus operates the morning Service 10 school run in from Porlock Weir, before positioning for the Coaster. Then at tea-time, instead of operating the 1600 Coaster it works the 1536 school run back to Porlock Weir, meaning it then runs light from Porlock Weir to Lynmouth to pick-up the return Coaster at 1710.
    Now the junction at ,Porlock with the Weir Road and the road up Porlock Hill is very narrow and sharp, and there's no way a bus that long could make the turn, so I wonder where in small narrow Porlock the bus turns?

  2. Andrew Kleissner8 December 2022 at 09:03

    I believe that an extra floor was added to the Charing Cross hotel in 1951 to provide extra accomodation for the Festival of Britain which, of course, was just a short stroll away on the South Bank.

  3. In Porlock, I think some buses used to turn in the car park entrance at the other end of the High Street. However the tight turn may just be possible. As the Exmoor Coaster runs all year it is classified as a standard bus route and bus passes are valid.