Thursday, December 21, 2017

Annie's Tea Rooms - Walk - Thrupp

On Christmas Eve in 1874 there was a great railway disaster near Thrupp. Heavy snow lay on the ground, and a Great Western Train from London Paddington had added an extra coach at Oxford and left at 11:40 AM. The carriage was needed to deal with the crowds of people wanting to get to the Midlands for Christmas.

On passing Thrupp a wheel tyre on the additional coach broke and the carriage left the rails. The rest of the train plunged down an embankment beside the Oxford Canal. 31 passengers died in the crash, and over 60 were seriously injured.
We parked the car at Thrupp near Annie's Tea Room.
We crossed the Oxford Canal and then went under the railway. The line was busy with freight and passenger trains.
The path went through a plantation for a mile or so until emerging beside the meandering River Cherwell. The slim spire of the church in Kidlington could be seen across the fields and was visible for most of the walk. We crossed open meadows with horses, and after the village of Hampton Poyle, saw sheep and cows.
The route then took us to what remained of Hampton Gay. The 16th Century Manor House had burned down in 1887. There is still a farm with a number of cottages nearby.

By mistake, we went off the designated footpath at this point and ended up going under the railway through water and coming to a field with a notice saying 'Bull in this Field.' So we turned back and found the way we should have gone, by the church at Hampton Gay. The church is still used but is surrounded by fields with no driveway or road access. The path took us under the railway, alongside the River Cherwell.
The last part of the walk was along the canal towpath ending at the canal maintenance yard, and Annie's Tea Room  where we went in and enjoyed Sweet Potato Soup with bread and butter.

There were no boards or memorial to the 1874 railway disaster we could see anywhere.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Westgate Library Re-opens

A few weeks ago, the new Westgate shopping centre opened. And today the Westgate Library re-opened. There had been a much smaller library during the twenty months it was closed.

There was no great radical change in the structure of the building. The staircases and view from the upper balcony looked much the same.
Different community groups were performing music, and that will be a feature in future. We met George Haslam, and he told us he will performing there on 6th January at 7pm. There was a string quartet when we arrived, and a choir singing carols when we left. The music section has now moved upstairs, as have poetry and computing. If anything the Local History section upstairs has shrunk.
What was the music library is now a multi-purpose education and community space. There were educational electronic kits, and ozobots - little robots that obey commands given as a sequence of colours. The space can be used by people wanting to pass on their knowledge on any subject.
The windows facing Castle Street look new with the colourful stained glass books.
Some of the furniture also looked new. The shelves are not so regimented but have different configurations. The different book sections now have a picture with their name.

It is good to have the Westgate Library open again. The library in Oxford is a bigger draw for me than the shopping centre.