Chippenham resident, Dr Brian Mathew is currently running an online petition in an effort – he says – to protect the view people currently have of the mouth of Brunel’s iconic Box Tunnel.
Dr Mathew – who is a former aid worker and lib-dem parliamentary candidate at the last general election – has already raised concerns with Network Rail over the impact of the mainline electrification on the Box Tunnel Bridge.
He says other bridges in North Wiltshire have seen 6 foot, opaque barriers of steel and fibreglass replacing stone parapets.
He says it’s important the view of the tunnel must be kept as it’s just yards from a blue plaque marks the former home of Rev Wilbert Awdry.
As a child, he lived beside this railway line. He was inspired by the sights and sounds of steam trains passing under the bridge and through Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s historic 1841 tunnel, to write the Thomas the Tank Engine stories.
Launching his petition to keep the view Dr Mathew said “We must keep this iconic view. In Bath, they are using railings for safety to keeping historic views. They must do this in Box.”
I took this up with Network Rail and a spokesperson told me:
‘We do not have the designs for Box as yet. However, I can advise you that we are intending to use a design similar to that which has been developed for Bath (along edge of rail in Sydney Gardens), using railings to achieve the desired height.’
I have been shown a concept design that has been submitted to B&NES for a listed building consent for Clay Bridge which crosses the London to Bristol line in the Keynsham area.
‘It is anticipated the design for Box will be along these lines.’
Dr Mathew’s petition is at: