The Wessex Regionalists have reacted angrily to the threat to two of the region’s iconic transport sites. Threats to Weymouth’s Quay Railway and the potential loss of the last remaining SRN4 hovercraft, which was manufactured in Wessex, has outraged the party’s co-organiser for Hampshire and the Solent, Cliff Jones (pictured left), who referred to the threats as ‘Wiping some of our proud transport heritage off the map’.
The Havant based Wessex Regionalists member said ‘Again we have a situation of short sightedness similar to that of the Beeching cuts & and destruction of historic buildings in the name of progress’.
He added ‘As a party we want to protect many aspects of our region’s history as possible, which is why we call for a halt to any destruction of the Weymouth Quay Railway. Our transport heritage is something the people of Wessex can be proud of. We are opposed to ripping the railway track that runs along the roads from Weymouth’s Railway Station to the Harbour, as this would prevent the running of trains and trams through streets of the town. This is unique in Britain and once it’s gone, it’s gone’.
When questioned on the liability of the railway, the local Wessex Regionalists organiser commented, ‘Instead of being a liability, we see it as an asset. Even though it has been unused for the last decade, we believe with the right commercial and political backing it could be a great asset to the town and Dorset, bringing in tourists and business as happens in other European countries that have such a system’.
Mr. Jones emphasised the potential economic aspects of preserving the railway, stating, ‘Heritage is big business as can be seen with the growing number of heritage railways and popularity of English Heritage and the National Trust’
Rebuking suggestions the railway could be dangerous on the streets of the seaside town, he said ‘The comments that having rail tracks laid in public roads is dangerous, is complete nonsense, as it does not cause any untoward problems in other towns and cities such as Blackpool and Manchester where public tramways operate.
Across the Solent the increasing likelihood of the last remaining SRN4 hovercraft has also caught the attention of the local Wessex Regionalists. ‘ These hovercraft are almost like the Concorde of the seas, but I’m sure there would be a national outcry if the last remaining one of those was to be scrapped’
The iconic cross channel hovercraft was built on the Isle of Wight, and the last remaining ones are now under threat of destruction by the Home & Communities Agency (HCA).
Mr. Jones commented ‘We believe these ought to be part of the redevelopment the old RNAS Daedalus airfield. With the right planning & backing they can be an asset to the community & local economy’.
Speaking on the subject of further preserving the region’s heritage Mr. Jones said, ‘Here we have two threats to the proud transport heritage of Wessex. There are possibly other threats across the region to historical buildings and artifacts that are being ignored by national organisations. We need a designated Wessex Heritage organisation or charity to step in and network between local preservation campaigns which slip through the fingers of the national organisations and which do not currently fit the remit of the Wessex Heritage Trust.
Those supportive of the campaigns to protect both historic transport sites are asked to sign the relevant petitions.
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