BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

On a bike, riding somewhere. Every day, rain or shine.

Posts tagged ‘Telford’

#365daysifbiking An early delight

February 14th – Unexpectedly encountered on a Telford cycleway, this hedgerow blossom. It’s lovely, crazy white, and almost insubstantially thin, like apple blossom.

I have no idea what it is. the tree is certainly flowering before its leaves have grown.

Don’t think I’ve ever seen this before, but the tree isn’t alone in its flowery beauty; so it’s not just an aberration.

Speckled with water droplets from the quite thick mist, this was a beautiful and unexpected delight.

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#365daysifbiking Telford – a paradoxical historic new town

February 12th – Telford is a new town that’s about 50 years old: Yet it’s also a place of great history, considered by many to be the birthplace of the industrial revolution. Today, I discovered that even under the ‘new’ Telford there is a big, big past.

Riding up the cycleway to Hortonwood, I go towards Stafford Park then turn over the pedestrian bridge and go through Priorslee. At the Stafford Park/Priorslee crossroads, there is a mess of old signposts, their boards removed when the local cycle routes were redesignated. On the orphaned posts, as well as the usual mess of Sustrans guff were new stickers for The Miner’s Walk.

Intrigued, I looked up the website mentioned on the sticker, and found that it’s a local history project with a five and a half mile walk through industrially significant spots in North Telford.

There is a great website here. – go check it out. It’s superb.

I found out that only a few hundred yards from this spot, up until about 1910, there was a mine called Dark Lane Colliery. In 1862, it was host to the worst loss of life in Shropshire mining history when 9 men and 3 boys crashed to their deaths when a cage rope came free.

I had of course heard of the Dawley pits, and those of Coalbrokedale, but had no idea the history was so complex and far north.

So those little stickers led to me learning something new today. Wonderful.

I shall be investigating this further.

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#365daysifbiking Unshed

February 4th – I’ve always been puzzled why it might be that some deciduous trees don’t shed their dead leaves in autumn; the summer growth dies and goes brown, but doesn’t drop.

Someone asked the same question on social media over the weekend, so I thought I’d look into it.

The characteristic is called marcescence, and is exhibited mainly by oak, beech and hornbeam in the UK. It’s not clear what the evolutionary purpose of this curious feature is; it could be to shelter leaf buds from browsing animals like deer, and indeed, some oaks are only marcescent on lower boughs. Another theory says that the leaves attached to the beaches have their goodness absorbed back into the tree over winter, which is more efficient than them dropping and relying on conversion from leaf litter.

So I’m not really much wiser, but at least it has a name – and this marcescant oak was showing it’s dead leaves well beside the cycleway in Telford as I passed this morning, making me smile.

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#365daysifbiking Sugar me

January 30th – Heading to Hortonwood in the morning, I alighted in Telford in a snow shower that didn’t last long, but rendered the cycleway beautiful with an icing sugar dusting of fresh, undisturbed snow.

What made it even more gorgeous was at the same time, the sun was shining.

An odd experience on a beautiful, cold and crisp morning.

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#365daysifbiking Rime and reason

January 22nd – This winter has been so mild that I’ve not got used the cold yet, and neither have I yet regained my confidence in my winter tyres.

A morning journey to Telford was chilly and felt precarious, with lots of black ice. I stayed upright, though, and honed my skills for another season – but I must say, I felt sorry for the blackbird on the cycleway at Telford looking for scraps of food. He clearly didn’t want to move!

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#365daysifbiking Alder time

January 17th – Signs of spring continue to seep into my daily commute.

On a bright, sunny, blue-sky morning fresh, alder catkins are growing, ready for spring next to last year’s fruit – female catkins which grow to become Coe-shaped and release seeds in winter, in the same was as pine cones.

Catkins are some of the first tree blooms of spring, and always a welcome sight.

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#365daysifbiking Disasterous design

January 17th – It’s rare I’m negative about anything over much, but the new footbridge at Telford Station is an utter design failure and in my opinion, a fiasco.

Still very much unfinished, the build quality in places is very poor, the finish terrible and when I arrived mid morning, both lifts had failed.

With no lift on the westbound side, and the utter design failure of no ramp, I had to shoulder my bike and carry it up the steep steps.

The old bridge had no lifts – but ramps both sides. Although not good in a wheelchair, they at least were continuously available. If the westbound lift fails here now, wheelchair uses are stranded.

The situation is so bad there is now a hastily drawn up plan for calling for help if  the lift fails.

The powers that be have spent 10 million pounds to make the situation far, far worse for wheelchair users than it was before they started, ostensibly to improve things for them.

Telford and Wrekin Council and Network Rail should hang their heads in shame.

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#365daysofbiking The Crossing:

December 13th – A bright, glass hard, cold day saw me in Telford mid-morning, and in the week or two I haven’t been here, the new footbridge has opened.

Man, is it a curate’s egg.

First thing is, someone clearly booked the possessions and plant to remove the old bridge for a fixed date, and the new one had to open. Regardless. So it’s not in even a nearly finished state. Brick cladding is still being laid. The access ramp to the cycleway on the Priorslee side is still being built. Bits of it haven’t been surfaced properly or at all. Workmen still mingle with commuters. It’s a bloody mess if I’m honest.

The bridge itself is an interesting, open construction that’s light and airy. It makes the journey between platforms one hell of a lot shorter. The lifts are welcome. It feels stable and the thing seems to be a nice, rigid design.

But there’s a huge, massive, glaring issue.

There is no ramp access to the Shrewsbury side of the station. So wheelies and those not able to use steps are confined to the lift. If that isn’t working, someone alighting here from Brum or Wolves will be stranded on a platform next to a 6 lane road with no means to cross it. There is no simple way around.

I can’t overstate how bad this is if it’s the final design.

If the bridge does not eventually provide ramp access to the Shrewsbury platform, then it will have failed in its primary objective – to make life easier for those that found the old ramp too steep. The designers will have spent 10 million quid making the use of this station for those with limited mobility much more of a gamble.

I hope I’m wrong and a ramp is sorted. If not, the council and Network Rail really need to rethink this urgently.

The bridge is nice, but too reliant on lifts, and at the moment is very much unfinished. Open too soon, and at the moment, looking critically flawed.

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#365daysofbiking Into the madness:

November 28th – Telford, that evening, viewed from the Euston Way.

Telford looks best at night. The station is crowded due to a cancelled train. The train I’m expecting is late. This is not going to be fun.

The lights, the steel and glass, the pretentions to being internationalist, commercial, vital and a centre for financial business work best at night.

In reality, Telford is an industrial and commercial sprawl, but it ain’t all that.

But it could have been a contender.

Oh well, into the madness…