Network Rail wants to demolish the Grade II listed signal box at Petersfield railway station.
In a pre-planning application to South Downs National Park Authority the company says it wants to introduce new CCTV equipment and lighting as part of an automated signalling system which is being introduced across the area.
They also want to reduce the distance between the level crossing barriers which, they say, will reduce the amount of time people spend crossing the tracks.
To achieve this, the company proposes moving the barrier base closer to the tracks and claims the 135 year old signal box is in the way.
The company says it is:
requesting pre-application advice from East Hampshire Council regarding whether the proposed demolition works would be acceptable under a Listed Building Consent Application and a demolition application.
Source: Network Rail Pre-Application Statement, July 2020.
The signal box is a London & South Western Railway Type 3a construction built around 1885.
Historic England says it is classed as Grade II Listed because of its rarity and the survival of original signalling equipment within the box.
The signal box is constructed to a unique transitional design marking the functional and architectural development between the London & South Western Railway Type 2 and Type 3 signal boxes.
The structure contains a ten-lever Stevens (Railway Signalling Co.) frame and locking rack (c1880), together with a circuit diagram, block shelf and block instruments.
It also forms part of a group of well preserved un-designated station buildings, according to the heritage organisation.
What do you think of the proposal?
Once the automated equipment is installed there is no practical reason to retain the signal box, but a piece of Petersfield history would be lost forever.
We’d like to hear your comments about the possible loss of this building. We’ll include a selection of comments in our Morning Report programme.
After two thrilling weeks Petersfield’s Shine Radio is sounding great and gaining listeners. More than 1,000 people listened in our launch week, and our diverse family of presenters is sounding more and more confident on the air.
Right now there are some new volunteering opportunities with the project that may appeal to you or someone you know:
If you’re well-organised and confident with computers you could help us file, catalogue and schedule audio features into our programmes. It would take about two to three hours of volunteering time each week, once we’ve settled into a good routine. You can do this from home on your own computer or laptop.
This is another satisfying opportunity for you if you have good computer skills and would like to help schedule the music and speech programmes into our output. We’ll train you on the software we use. Again, you can do this from home, connecting remotely to our systems.
Just send an email to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, expressing your interest or to connect us with someone who you know would enjoy one of these opportunities.
At 9am next Saturday, 5 September, TV’s Richard Gaisford will lead an online workshop on news gathering, bulletin writing and reading. He’ll demonstrate how simple, quick and fun it can be to produce valuable local news.
To be part of the online session and join the team that makes our daily bulletins, again, email email@example.com and we can organise the link for you.
For the last six years, Jo Watts, and her team at Sew Creative, on Lavant Street, have hosted the Petersfield Sewing Bee competition with various challenges for adult and junior sewers.
This year’s creations have been displayed in the shop’s window to view over the last few weeks – and they looked absolutely amazing.
Our youngest reporter, Nina Vennis, went along to the final on Saturday. She caught up with the winner of the Junior Sewing Bee, 11-year-old Liddy Sobey, and then chatted with Jo Watts and sewing expert and judge of the sewing bee Wendy Gardiner.
Congratulations also to Penny Hearn, who won the adult competition and to our own Nina, who, modestly, forgot to mention her success in the challenge one Junior section for her wellness bag.
Hampshire County Council planners have shared draft plans for possible road layouts that would allow for social distancing in Petersfield town centre.
As we reported in the Morning Report earlier this week, the plans show barriers in several roads between pedestrians and traffic, a loss of free parking on the High Street, in the Square and on Lavant Street.
The draft proposals include making the 48-space Castle Yard car park, opposite the telephone exchange on Swan Street, free of charge for one hour at a time.
We have yet to receive confirmation from Hampshire County Council that these plans are approved and will be implemented, however, signs have already appeared on the High Street warning of parking restrictions for the installation of barriers.
Councillor Rob Mocatta has promised us an interview which we will share in our daily Morning Report and we hope to also share the views of Petersfield shopkeepers who have privately expressed fears the town could look “like a war zone” with all the barriers.
See the draft plans
Here’s what the draft plans show. Click to go large.
We respect the copyright in the plans and mapping which is reproduced here in the public interest.
Signs of our times
Under the proposals, yellow signs like this will help you find your way to the alternative free parking.
Pedestrians and drivers will be alerted to the new arrangements and social distancing rules with red signs like these.
Lords Farm has not been assessed in our SHLAA to date, nor are we aware of it being submitted for a future SHLAA update.
According to the South Downs Local Plan, the location is outside the settlement boundaries for Petersfield and Sheet. As it is classed as open countryside, the presumption would be against development, although no planning application has been received by the Authority.
SHLAA site EA116 Land North of Reservoir Lane, between Petersfield and Sheet, was assessed and rejected due to the landscape assessment, which concluded that large-scale development at this location would have a significant detrimental impact on the landscape.
South Downs National Park Authority, 4 June 2020
What do you think?
Do you live on Waterworks Road, School Lane or the area near Kingsfernsden Lane? What do you think about the sale, and would you want to see housing built on the green spaces between Petersfield and Sheet?
Petersfield’s largest school, The Petersfield School wants local people to donate unused portable computers to help children get online and study during the Coronavirus outbreak.
If you have an unused iPad, Chromebook or laptop computer you can drop it off at Tesco on the Causeway.
A similar scheme is operated in Liphook for Bohunt School which shares management with TPS.
During the pandemic, children at home are able to continue learning remotely, but only if they can connect. The school has partnered with external organisations to ensure student get strong support with their digital learning.
The school says 12% of UK households do not have a computer but that many people have unused devices lying around the house.
Head teacher Mark Marande told Petersfield Community Radio:
I want to reassure parents that a laptop is not a prerequisite for accessing our remote learning package. It can be done via a tablet or even a smart phone. However, we do recognise that access to digital technology might be a challenge for some families, especially if parents are also working from home and if schools have to remain shut for an extended period of time. Therefore today across the Bohunt Education Trust we are launching a ‘donation of unused devices to support education’ drive.
Mark Marande, Head Teacher, The Petersfield School
All donated devices will be provided to local families with children at school so that they can get online and connect to their teachers.
Devices in demand
iPad 3s or higher
Laptops capable of running Windows 7 or higher
It is important that any donated devices are:
Cleaned/disinfected, using ethyl or isopropyl alcohol on a soft cloth (follow manufacturers’ recommendations)
In full working order, with working leads and power adapters for laptops and Chromebooks (not essential for iPads), and completely reset.
Several Petersfield businesses sent their staff home for the day after this dramatic electrical fire cut off their power supply.
Flames and smoke poured from the wooden pole which was left charred by the fire at Heath Farm. It is one of a string of poles that carry live cables across the site to homes and businesses that operate on the site.
Two fire appliances and electrical safety specialists attended. SSE staff were scrambled from their local base on Bedford Road.
The businesses affected all operate at the farm and include the global headquarters of online recommendations service Feefo and the PR and marketing agency Azalea.
Around one hundred Feefo staff have been sent to work from home while some company operations have transferred to their smaller London office. Other businesses on the site have also closed for the day and have invoked their contingency plans.
A total of six businesses and homes have been affected, according to SSE Networks which operates the power infrastructure in Petersfield.
The first reports of the fire came from Hampshire Fire Service and local workers at 9.15am. SSE staff were on site within fifteen minutes to isolate the pole.
SSE says it is not uncommon for fires to occur on electricity poles. Sometimes they can be caused by birds hitting the wires or by lightning.
Petersfield Town and EHDC councillor Jamie Matthews, a technical infrastructure specialist, suggested on social media that ice causing a short circuit could be to blame.
SSE says they won’t know until their detailed inspection which must wait until engineers can take the pole down but there there is no evidence of any lightning in the Petersfield area at the time.
SSE apologies for any inconvenience to customers and says its teams are working to restore the power as quickly as possible. They managed to restore power before their target time of 4pm.
Today’s fire comes just weeks before a major electricity infrastructure upgrade starts in the Petersfield area.
The project will place new high voltage cables under several streets in the town and remove overhead cables on a route from Petersfield to Fernhurst.
SSE Networks is running two public consultation events where local people can look at the plans and raise concerns.
Emergency crews from the fire service and police attended Petersfield railway station today after passengers reported a fire on board a Northbound train.
South Western Railway staff stopped and evacuated the ten-carriage train at Petersfield after passengers noticed smoke and a smell of burning in the fifth carriage.
Fire crew members told us that nobody was hurt.
We spoke to these eyewitnesses and passengers affected by the incident.
The train on which the fire was reported is one of the recently-refurbished “Class 442” units which are 30-years old. They entered service on the London Waterloo to Portsmouth line this month.
The affected service was the 10.15 from Portsmouth Harbour to London Waterloo.
It arrived into Petersfield just one minute behind schedule at 10.48 but didn’t leave the station until 12.51 when it was driven to Haslemere. The onward service to London was then cancelled.
Control point in the car park
Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service deployed four vehicles including three fire engines and established a control point for the incident in the car park off Frenchmans Road. We counted 18 fire service staff at the railway station.
South Western Railway organised replacement buses to take passengers to their destinations. Some trains started to run after one o’clock but delays and cancellations continued to show on the station boards into the afternoon.
Eyewitness tells of smoke and smell
Sarah was one of scores of passengers on the train who were caught up in the drama. The disruption meant Sarah had to reschedule a hospital appointment. She told Petersfield Community Radio what happened to her.
I was on the carriage in front of where it happened and apparently it filled with smoke and there was a smell. Most people left the train because of an electric fire smell. Then we were all told to get off, and all told to steer clear of the train and then we were all told to evacuate the platform.
What could have caused it?
We know Fire and Rescue Service personnel used heat-detecting equipment to identify an overheating brake. The brake would have caused a lot of firey smoke and heat but nobody has reported seeing flames.
Railway experts who have spoken to Petersfield Community Radio suggest that the brakes in the fifth carriage could have been locked because of a fault or even human error. We understand this train was in for overnight maintenance last night.
While modern trains will alert the driver to a locked or “dragging” brake, our experts say the only indication a driver would have of such a fault on these older ‘442’ units would be if they could feel the train not pulling properly, or if somebody raised the alarm.
Another bad day for train users
In addition to the fire scare in Petersfield, a piece of railway track was damaged between Rowlands Castle and Petersfield today. This meant that trains had to travel through that area Northbound as slow as 5 miles per hour at one time.
There is no suggestion of any connection between the damaged rail and the overheating brakes that caused today’s evacuation.