Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Northampton: "One of the largest brown field development opportunities in the UK"

South of the power station and the Avon building, the footpath that was once Nunn Mills Road takes you thorough a derelict industrial area. The Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership calls it "one of the largest brown field development opportunities in the UK".

I was puzzled. It all seemed very derelict, but if I had my bearings right then a train had passed over Bridge Street level crossing and through this site as recently as recently as 2006. Certainly, there are pictures of an enthusiasts' rail tour in the area in 2004.

Just as I was beginning to doubt myself, a pair of rails crossed my path.

After that I turned left and found a lake teeming with wildfowl. I stayed for a while to enjoy the convoys of mallards and their chicks and watch a great crested grebe dive. It stayed down for an age, but sufaced with a silver fish in its mouth. It knew what it was doing.

If it weren't for the distant main road and the pylons, you could make a film of Bevis here.

Then I made my way back to what had been Nunn Mills Road and tried turning right instead. This took me along a rough road (it seems no one is sure who owns it) that runs along the southern boundary of the site.

Somewhere in the middle of it there is a "rare and little altered example of a Midland Railway locomotive shed". All the security fencing makes it impossible to photograph at the moment, but I hope it will be retained and restored as part of the redevelopment here.

Eventually I came out on Ransome Road and could take a look at Claughton Road, a cul-de-sac that comes off it. A Guide to the Industrial Heritage of Northamptonshire tells me it was built in 1915 to house workers at the nearby permanent way depot and named for Sir Gilbert Claughton, then the company's chairman.

But it takes the Far Cotton History Group website to tell you that Claughton Road was built before Ransome Road and was orginally approached from the other end via a road that ran by the railway and was called Occupation Road.

By now the storm clouds were threatening, so I took refuge in the Old White Hart, Far Cotton.

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