Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Woodford Halse - an odd village

Woodford Halse is a strange place, rather difficult to categorise, and is almost large enough to be called a town. Indeed it would surely be a town by now had the Great Central Railway not disappeared from the area (though arguably the G.C.R. still exists around Loughborough in Leicestershire). Today I visited Woodford with Chris as she had a short appointment there.
Once a small village of 61 houses it grew rapidly with the formation of the Great Central Railway, for it was chosen for the site of a very large motive power depot - invariably called a 'shed' - which in 1948 housed 56 locomotives. With the closure of the railway Woodford Halse was stopped in its tracks but for a settlement of its size it still retains a remarkably wide range of retail outlets.
The railway still retains an influence on the village in many ways. The railway track passed through the village on a high embankment, now covered with trees, and may become - with proper management - an increasingly important site for wildlife. A large proportion of the trees are sycamores but many species are happy to make use of them.
Woodland now covers the embankment leading up to the site of the 'shed'.
Woodford Halse, 23 January, 2018
The embankment was partly necessitated because at this point it crossed the River Cherwell (pronounced Charwell), an important tributary of the River Thames. The river when I visited it today was swollen by rain and melting snow although it is normally just a broad stream.
The youthful River Cherwell had been swollen by recent rains.
Woodford Halse, 23 January, 2018
The low-lying wetland adjacent to the river has recently been developed into an interesting feature called Great Central Woodland. It has attractive walks, although I am bound to say that in late January it wasn't looking at its best.
'Waste' land now forms an attractive habitat.
As for the village, many of the older parts, contemporary with the railway boom, consist of narrow roads bordered by terraces of small houses, fine for the late 19th Century railway worker but increasingly unsatisfactory for the 21st Century. These houses are much what might be found in a large industrial town and look incongruous in a village.
Back streets in Woodford Halse have the look of those in a large town.
23 January, 2018
For some reason I was moved to photograph a Norway Spruce, Picea abies, in the wetland. area. It is not yet a large tree, being only around fifteen feet tall, but is probably growing rapidly and it is worth noting that Europe's tallest native tree is a Norway Spruce. It was perhaps planted out some years ago as a redundant Christmas Tree. The idea of Christmas Trees seems to have originated in Prussia and the word spruce is derived from 'Prussia' via the related word 'pruce'.
A Norway Spruce is a neat feature of the Great Central Woodland.
23 January, 2018
By this time I felt that Chris would be ready to be gathered up so I scurried up into the main street, glad also for an excuse to get out of the drizzling rain.

Tony White. E-mail: diaea@yahoo.co.uk


No comments:

Post a Comment