This semi fine morning I had to make a trip to Chippenham for a job interview. It was a grey sort of day, in fact its been a grey day since the beginning of the week, so not much has changed. The town is situated on the London Paddington-Bristol Temple Meades line with First Great Western, and it was quite an expensive way to waste money on train fare.
Traveling through Didcot Parkway and Swindon, Chippenham was the next stop. It is really quite a sleepy sort of station though, and I will come back to it.
However, the area I needed to be in was in the opposite side of the station to where the city centre was. I was running about an hour early so headed off towards a church spire that I could see from the station. This was however not the church that I had seen from Google Earth.
Called St Pauls, it is a wonderful old building with an enormous spire that sticks out above everything else. It also had a wonderful churchyard with 9 CWGC graves in it.
The graves had been photographed before so I am not too worried about missing some of them. Unfortunately there was some sort of group on the go when I was there so I could only grab one quick image before I headed off to the taxi rank and my interview.
After my interview, (which went well, but which did not land me the job) I headed back towards the station, although aiming for an area that looked interesting beyond the station. Fortunately I did not have to worry too much about train times as it was still reasonably early.
As is to be expected, the closer you get to town, the older the houses become, and from what I can see Chippenham is more residential than commercial. The railway line runs on one side of the town, and it runs over one of those beautiful bricked arches that I have seen in a number of places. I always marvel at the interior brickwork of the arch, there are so many of these structures all over Britain, and they are all reasonably old, so they were built to last. I did however miss the Brunel Railway Viaduct, but did not know it was there until now.
I had more or less arrived where I wanted to be, but discovered that it was not where I should be to see what I wanted to see, so headed off towards the town centre which was 10 minutes away. This is where you get to see the age of the town, and some of the architecture that is still standing today.
The town centre sits more or less on a hill, and the river Avon meanders through the town, I suspect this is the same Avon that I encountered in Bath, Bristol and Salisbury.
The small roofed structure is the Buttercross, and it has somewhat of a chequered history, the original having been erected in 1570. Once past the Buttercross I was almost at the top of the town and my destination was in sight.
The spire probably gives it away, and the structure on the traffic island is the Chippenham War Memorial. The church is known as St Andrews, and it is one of those old churches that seem to originate many centuries ago and that have undergone so much restoration and modernisation that it is difficult to know what part is original. Unfortunately, I could not get inside, but the graveyard is reasonably intact and has the largest collection of chest tombs I have ever seen in one spot.
It does however stand in an awkward space, so getting a decent image of it is very difficult. However, the buildings behind the church are really beautiful, and I just wish I had better photography weather.
And then it was time to start heading back to the station.
Crossing over the river once more. I more or less knew where the station was now so headed in that general direction. There were still many pretty buildings to see, but I was starting to tire and really wanted to be on my way home.
Is that part of the Brunel Viaduct? it is possible, but I cannot be too sure.
The local Class 153 pulled into the station shortly after I arrived, and that was pretty much the sum total of trains that I saw at the station outside of the FGW fast inter-cities that I had come here on. These towns must have really been something to see in the heady days of steam, although they would have probably been much dirtier and full of smog.
Alas, all we have now are dirty diesels.
Don't blink now, but that was Chippenham. It was an interesting diversion, but rationally it was a waste of money. A whole days wages is not to be sneezed at, although at the end of the day I need to go for interviews, and hopefully one of them may pay off. It is doubtful that I will come through here again, which is a pity because I suspect there is much more to see here than meets the eye.
DR Walker Created 13/02/2015