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Notes and news — December 1997

South Kensington station to be redeveloped

South Kensington station © Robert Mason 2013

It now seems likely that a scheme to redevelop South Kensington LT railway station will go ahead despite local opposition.

The architects are Terry Farrell and Partners and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea has granted planning permission.

The District and Circle Line platforms here which have traditional canopies to keep off the rain are redolent of the days before electric traction and certainly evoke a feeling at least of the Edwardian period. Arriving by District or Circle Line train at South Kensington is always something of an event and it would be a considerable loss for West London if this part of the station is to be affected.

It is to be hoped that the intended redevelopment will only take place at street level around the perimeter of the site. The intention is to construct flats and mews houses as well as provide office, shop and restaurant accommodation. It is also planned to 'improve' the subway to the South Kensington museums.

South Kensington District and Circle Line station is almost unique on the underground and compares favourably with say Barons Court station of 1916, listed grade II. This latter station has recently been repainted its original colour of maroon. A visit here can be recommended. Bob Carr

PS Waverley to be rebuilt

Many things are being spruced up for the millennium and the 50 years old paddle steamer Waverley is no exception (GLIAS Newsletter 171, p4).

Waverley at Swanage. © Robert Mason In the winter of 1998/9 it is planned to carry out a very substantial rebuilding operation. The ship would be stripped down to a bare-framed shell and work carried out to return what is left to as far as is possible an as-new condition. Work would then continue as if the ship were being newly built with new decks, funnels, aluminium deckhouses and a new foremast. There is also a proposal to fit a rudder at the bow and install a bow thruster to enable deck officers unfamiliar with paddle-steamers to berth the ship more easily.

Experience of regular paddle-steamer operation is becoming a rarity. The intention is to make the vessel roughly as economic to operate as a modern ship of her size. The winter refit costs could be reduced to about a third of present expenditure. Waverley would be brought in line with historic paddle steamers operating in Switzerland and Germany and passenger comfort and facilities would be of a contemporary standard.

Some traditionalists, however, may view the above proposals with concern as Waverley would no longer be a Clyde paddle steamer in original if somewhat worn condition. Will the ship be spoilt by such a drastic rebuilding? If Lottery Funding comes through quickly the paddle steamer will be out of service during the summer of 1998 and we may already have seen the last of the old Waverley on the Thames. It is pointed out that the bow rudder and thruster will not be visible and the original triple-expansion steam engine by Rankin and Blackmore of the Eagle Foundry, Greenock, is to be retained.

The intention is to keep Waverley operational well into the next century, up to say 2020. Rebuilding the Waverley might be likened to the refurbishment that was carried out on the London Routemaster buses and one could argue that by 2020 people familiar with a paddle steamer in the 1950s will be rather thin on the ground and at least a sea-going paddle ship will still be making passenger carrying outings. Do readers have an opinion on this issue? Bob Carr

Commercial road carrying in London


AIA conference 1997


Early gas industry


Europe's earliest — or not?

(GLIAS Newsletter October 1997)


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© GLIAS, 1997