Over the the years Wycombe has treated its historic buildings with contempt.
Rather than restoring and cherishing our buildings all too many have instead been given an appointment with the wrecking ball or bulldozer.
The other day yours truly was walking around the town centre on my regular lunchtime walk when it seemed like a good idea to wander up to the railway station to watch the trains going past.
Walking up the Amersham Hill your humble servant was struck dumb in disbelief with what I saw on the side of the old goods shed. Or should that be what remains of the goods shed after some bright herbert decided to demolish half of it a few years ago because ‘it blocked the view of the railway station for anyone approaching up the hill’.
There in front of me, painted on the side of the once magnificent structure, was a large mural reminiscent of something you would see on the end of a row of terraced houses in Northern Ireland during the troubles of the 70’s and 80’s.
Instead of men wearing balaclavas brandishing armalites Wycombe’s mural seems to feature a large train which has suffered a brake failure and gone through the back of the building meant to contain it.
By George, seeing that hideous painting (pictured above) made me feel physically sick. How could anything so dreadful end up on the side of one of the towns most historic buildings?
The old Railway terminus station and engine shed is a Grade II listed building. How many more towns would allow a modern day mural to be painted on a listed building?
What would happen if someone suggested painting a mural on the side of Hughenden Manor? Or how about painting a scene from a meeting of the Hell Fire Club on the side of the golden ball at West Wycombe?
As far as I’m concerned the building is now desecrated beyond redemption indeed to save embarrassment it would be better to raze the whole structure to the ground. The loss of the extension to the western end of the goods shed added in the early 1900’s damaged the historical integrity but the latest defiling of the structure is a step too far.
The new mural is in three sections, on the left section are the words ‘High Wycombe’, in the middle is the picture and on the right are the words ‘The Brunel Railway Shed 1854‘.
So this is Brunel’s Railway shed? Um, no…. The building was erected in 1854 by the Wycombe Railway. The official text of the description of building when it was listed says that it was ‘….designed probably by one of Brunel’s assistants, but to a basically Brunel design.‘ Brunel, that is Isambard Kingdom Brunel of GWR fame, had nothing to do with it indeed the project was so unimportant to him that it was handed down to one of his assistants.
So according to the plaque it’s a ‘Railway Shed‘? Um, no….. wrong again. The building was originally a railway terminus station with engine shed later used as a goods shed.
Assuming even a very tenuous link with Brunel surely the sign should read ‘The Brunel engine shed‘ or ‘The Brunel goods shed‘. The shed was used to keep trains under cover and then store goods brought to the town by the railway. Since when was a railway kept in the shed (as insinuated by the wording in the picture above)?
Well, there’s another one of Wycombe’s historic buildings ruined. Such a thing could only happen in Wycombe….
What do you think?
*Don’t forget my blogs are published here on WycombeToday.com twice a week every Tuesday and Friday evenings around 8pm.
*If you should see me walking around the town centre at lunchtimes why not come up and say hello? I’m very friendly and always happy to hear from my readers!