Losing the last remnants

At various points on the road network of north Northumberland it is possible to see the sandstone abutments of the bridges of the Alnwick to Coldstream and Berwick to Carham railways.

Saturday, 30th March 2019, 8:00 am

These railways were constructed in the 1840s and decommissioned in the 1960s. The rights of way of these railways were then fragmented and sold off.

This failure to retain the rights of way in public ownership prevented the development of them for recreational purposes, such as footpaths, linear woods, bridle paths or cycle paths, or indeed the reopening of the railways at a later date.

Demonstrating a similar lack of vision, the Government, represented by Chris Grayling and through the agency of Highways England, is planning to demolish the railway abutments that are adjacent to public roads.

If this plan is executed, the last publicly accessible remnants of the north Northumberland railway lines of the early Victorian age will be gone.

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The reason for the demolition is the view that the abutments present a risk, which can be eliminated by demolition.

There is a well-established quantitative method of performing risk analysis that allows a comparison to be made between the product of the statistical probability of the risk materialising, the financial consequences and the cost of eliminating the risk. Such an analysis appears not to have been performed by, or on behalf of, Highways England.

Planning applications have already been made for demolition. Your readers who have an interest in the prudent use of the taxes levied on them, or who have some regard for the industrial heritage of Northumberland, may wish to register their objections with their parish councils and county councillors, and directly with the planning authority.

Richard Harrison