Published: April 11, 2014
Burnham-On-Sea railway heritage project hopes to gather steam

A group of local historians have this week appealed for help in finalising a unique project that celebrates Burnham-On-Sea's railway heritage.

The Buffer Stop Memorial Project hopes to install a set of old railway buffers at the junction of Pier Street and The Esplanade, where the town's former railway line ended.

Leader John Strickland told Burnham-On-Sea.com: "We have been working on the project for over three years and have had many ups and downs along the way. We have had many talks and meetings with representatives of various local authorities and organisations, including Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust."

"The support and interest has been very encouraging but we need residents' help to ensure the buffer stop gets installed and is in place soon to form the start of our forthcoming Heritage Trail around Burnham."

The group - comprising of John, Terry Temlett and Ann Popham - have identified an area of land for the buffers, pictured right.

John added: "The location is at the top of Pier Street, opposite the entrance to the Reed's Arms - it's a small triangular pebbled area where there was once a tree and a bench; the tree is now gone and the bench is broken."

"This is where we've applied for planning permission to site the buffers – close to where they were located from 1930 until the line was taken up in the 1960s. It's an ideal site for the Buffer Stop Memorial and would tidy what is currently an eyesore. We have even said we would restore the bench."

"The buffers have been donated, removed and stored at no cost. A new wooden beam has also been offered free. The paint has also been donated and a group of local volunteers are about to sand and paint the buffers. A local business man has also offered to transport them for installation, again for free."

"All was going well, until we discovered we would need agreement from the freeholder and also two leaseholders. The good news is that all have agreed to the installation in principal, but unfortunately their legal costs are high."

"Inspite of this, we believe this is the best location for them for several reasons - there are no services below this pebbled area and, being a pebbled area, people are unlikely to walk across it."

"There is also no parking space there, so no loss of income to the sub-lease holders. There is no infringement of public pathways. Siting in another area along Marine Drive may cause a safety hazard – especially as this is on the carnival route."

"It's also an ideal location for visitors walking from the car park to find the beginning of the Burnham Heritage Trail, with the resultant potential financial benefit to shops and restaurants."

John explained that the next few months are going to be critical to the project's success.

"We definitely need the support of local residents to get the project completed. There are several ways that residents can help us ensure that Burnham has the benefit of the Buffer Stop Memorial - firstly, we encourage residents to write to Burnham Town Council's Clerk, Denise Emery at the Council Offices, The Old Courthouse, Jaycroft Road, TA8 1LE to show their support for this project."

"Also, to help our fundraising, we very much welcome donations in our collecting tins at the S&D Pub, Wetherspoons, The Royal Clarence, GW Hurley's newsagents, The Railway Hotel or by cheque made payable to 'Burnham Buffer Stop Memorial' and sent to 1 Wordsworth Close, Burnham-On-Sea, TA8 2QB or directly to the Buffer Memorial Account at HSBC Bank (account number: 11301578 sort code: 40-13-32)."

The railway station in Pier Street was opened on 3rd May 1858 with the name 'Burnham' and it was not until 12th July 1920 that the suffix 'on-Sea' was added. Burnham's railway station closed to regular passenger traffic in October 1951, although summer excursions continued until 8th September 1962.

 


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