Monday, 6 November 2017

Re-purposed railwayana

 Those of you who have read Blood on the Tide (you haven't?!) will know that DI Sonny Russell lives in a converted railway carriage somewhere near Compass Point. Well, this is the inspiration for it. It's a holiday home called Shinglesea on a stony track near the sea at Winchelsea Beach - there, I've given it away.

I'll also give something else away. Shinglesea is actually a vintage double decker bus, split in half. The lower deck, in the photo, is parallel to the track and the upper deck goes off at right-angles at the back, but to all intents and purposes, it looks like a railway carriage.

It's been owned by the same family for many years. I met the current generation and they're really nice people. How did I meet them? I used the carriage/bus as the basis for my first Chelsea Flower show garden in 2007 and checked that they wouldn't mind. In fact they were delighted, plus I got them tickets to the show.
My friend, Robert Patch, who has a furniture making workshop at Rye Harbour (renamed in the book, Compass Point - there, I've done it again!) made me a 4.5 metre long facade of a Victorian railway carriage. We put 4 tonnes of shingle in the garden and planted drought tolerant trees, shrubs and perennials straight into it. Even Her Majesty, The Queen was impressed. Well, she shook my hand, anyway.
We're currently having a relaxing break in Suffolk and I've come across a couple of other redundant railway items. The first is the old waiting room on Clare station.
The setting is lovely, now a pleasant park, surrounding what is left of Clare castle - not much, as it happens. The main station building has been re-purposed as a cafe, which looked inviting but as we'd already eaten in the splendid Cafe Clare in the town, we sadly had to give it a miss. The waiting room, on the opposite platform, looks as if it could open for traveller at any time. Maybe it will be the stand-in for the station building at Collinghurst?
This item was spotted in Dedham - a redundant railway van. I particularly like the way it has a nice rusty, curved corrugated iron roof and nature, in the way of ivy and fast-growing saplings are gradually making it part of the natural world. 

I can imagine one of Sonny Russell's future adversaries using it as a hide-out. Now there's an idea.

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