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Author Topic: Permissive path - Purley / Pangbourne AND Access bridges to farms and fields  (Read 2934 times)
stuving
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« Reply #15 on: April 01, 2020, 08:12:22 pm »

There is another underbridge at Purley next to the Marina that appears to go nowhere when you view it from the train as the housing on the southern side is slightly higher than the railway at this point while the Marina is down low. The only thing I can think it would be is Purley Park House's access to land belonging to them on the northern side of the line. I'm aware that the estate once had a subway under the Oxford Road near the Roebuck for access to their land that I guess was put in when the Oxford Road was diverted for the railway.

That appears to be right; there's a narrow strip of land then what looks like the boundary of Purley Park. The track leads out and goes to St Mary's church, as well. From there westwards the land rises and the railway is in a cutting with four overbridges for various purposes. Then there is the Scrace's farm underpass, which had a footpath through it since grubbed out on the south side. There's another underpass 350 m to the west (on the edge of modern Pangbourne) that is still open and provides road access to the sewage works, so presumably the public path now uses that.
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eightonedee
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« Reply #16 on: April 01, 2020, 08:31:50 pm »

There's also a bit of a story to this one. It was meant to have become a public footpath link when the Purley Beeches development was built in the early 1970s to provide a link between the Thames path where it leaves the river side by the Roebuck pub over the footbridge just west of Tilehurst Station and where it starts again in River Gardens, opposite Mapledurham House on the other side of the river. I don't know why this was not secured, but this would have been at the time that local government reorganisation meant that the planning authority changed from Bradfield Rural District Council to Newbury District Council, and the developer of the scheme, Loverock, got into financial difficulties in the financial crisis that followed the Yom Kippur War and the oil crisis of 1973-4.

Whatever the reason, the opportunity was lost to cut out quite a detour of more than a mile for those following the path who have to cross the railway over the New Hill bridge and then make their way back to the river through the Purley Park housing estate to the north of the railway. The name of this estate I think reflects the fact that it used to belong to the owner of Purley Park, but it was sold in lots in the 1930s, and became a development of holiday homes formed from (among other things) old railway coaches, caravans and similar structures, many acquired by Londoners. 

As regards the path under the railway bridge on the edge of Pangbourne mentioned by Stuving, this is a public footpath that runs along the Sul Brook all the way from the Oxford Road to the Thames towpath. For those with an interest in odd local government boundary anomalies, the triangular field lying immediately to the west of the Sul Brook just before it enters the Thames, Saltney Mead, had the strange status of being in two parishes simultaneously, one Purley (which it abuts), the other Sulham which it did not.
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Marlburian
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« Reply #17 on: April 01, 2020, 09:26:58 pm »

Much interesting detail here:

Project Purley

Lots of railway content!

A few years ago there was some talk of (re)-opening a path under a tunnel near the church in Purley, though I never understood quite where it was. The last couple of posts have prompted me to have at look at old maps and do a ground recce

There's still an inn sign on the towpath at the bottom of the Roebuck footbridge implying hospitality. Must be a bit frustrating for thirsty boaters to clamber up the steps and find the pub has been converted into apartments.
« Last Edit: April 05, 2020, 11:04:48 am by Marlburian » Logged
Reading General
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« Reply #18 on: April 02, 2020, 11:02:31 am »

Much interesting detail here:

Project Purley

Lots of railway content!

A few years ago there was some talk of (re)-opening a path under a tunnel near the church in Purley, though I never understood quite where it was. The last couple of posts have prompted me to have at look at old maps and do a ground recce

There's still an inn sign on the towpath at the bottom of the Roebuck footbridge promising hospitality. Must be a bit frustrating for thirsty boaters to clamber up the steps and find the pub has been converted into apartments.

Interesting stuff. I learnt a lot from that and a little more about how the railway works
Thanks
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Reading General
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« Reply #19 on: April 02, 2020, 11:21:10 am »

So the road from the Roebuck to Purley village, which was probably the original road from Reading to Pangbourne before the turnpike was built, was abandoned to the east of the village. Looking at old maps this ran at a diagonal across the estate that is on the northern side of the line between that and the church, and it appears the Reading Borough boundary still follows the path of this road for a short distance across the railway to the ferryman's cottage near the railway wall. It seems likely that the underbridge at the marina was provided for something that was once a public right of way. Shame it never opened, as it would provide far more direct access from the 'floodplain' area of Purley to Tilehurst station.
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stuving
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« Reply #20 on: April 02, 2020, 01:57:39 pm »

So the road from the Roebuck to Purley village, which was probably the original road from Reading to Pangbourne before the turnpike was built, was abandoned to the east of the village. Looking at old maps this ran at a diagonal across the estate that is on the northern side of the line between that and the church, and it appears the Reading Borough boundary still follows the path of this road for a short distance across the railway to the ferryman's cottage near the railway wall. It seems likely that the underbridge at the marina was provided for something that was once a public right of way. Shame it never opened, as it would provide far more direct access from the 'floodplain' area of Purley to Tilehurst station.

Are we looking at the same old maps? I said earlier what I could see, and that text confirms that the tunnel/underpass by what's now the marina was for access from Purley Park to the church, negitiated with Anthony Morris Storer. Based only on Google Earth, it appears that when the land north of the railway was sold for housing, Purley Magna (as is now is) retained that track and a bit of land each side, with a locked gate at the end. So, not public and never was.

As to the old road, I read that diagonal feature as a wall - look at the detailing at the ends and gaps. Outside the wall there is more parkland in 1912, and landscaping did tend to obliterate anything that wasn't seen as pretty enough. It's not shown as part of the same land parcel as Purley Park proper, but I think it could still have been owned by Storrer as the text suggests. In fact, I wonder if the road may have been destroyed before the railway, if it wasn't the main road any more - landownbders did tend to do that sort of thing, whether legally entitled to or not.
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Marlburian
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« Reply #21 on: April 02, 2020, 02:42:50 pm »

1897 map of Purley & Tilehurst

showing the underpass near the Roebuck - also the tunnel leading to Little John's Farm (under three main lines and two sidings) that inspired this thread.


1897 map of Pangbourne and east of the village


The bridge that I mentioned in Reply 10 is shown over the track leading north from the .

"Wallingford 10" milestone

Modern Streetmap

(You may have play around with each map to focus on precise spots, enlarge etc - and there are different scales for the modern Streetmap.)

Wonder if I'll bump into any of you as we inspect the terrain as it is today?  Smiley

Incidentally the short stretch of towing path on the north side of the Thames opposite the marina is still a right-of-way, though I doubt that it can be accessed except by boaters. I believe that the owner of Purley Park didn't want horses pulling barges on his side of the river, so necessitating  those few hundred yards of path and two ferries. Must have been very irritating to bargees!
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Reading General
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« Reply #22 on: April 02, 2020, 02:49:47 pm »

I was thinking more as a track/way, with possibly no right of, to replace the road which was obliterated by the railway, not necessarily following the same path. On an 1879 map it appears there is a path right up against the southern side of the line that makes a hard turn at the tunnel, joining a path from Purley Park.

I'm fairly sure that I read somewhere that the Oxford Road at the top of the hill was a later creation and it would make sense that an earlier road would have gone around the hill and through the village originally, and that this road could be used as a parish boundary. Perhaps this part was abandoned on the creation of the turnpike road but I would imagine that people still used the route as a footpath before the physical barrier of the railway appeared. It does look like a wall on closer inspection, could this wall have been alongside the road? Land on the northern side of this road/wall could have been acquired at a later date, otherwise why have the wall?

It's also rumoured that Purley once had a pub somewhere.
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eightonedee
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« Reply #23 on: April 02, 2020, 09:00:37 pm »

The history of the Oxford Road is related in another, less detailed publication from Project Purley here - http://www.project-purley.eu/R200140.pdf. It does seem that it is an old turnpike road, but it was diverted along what is its current course before the arrival of the railway.

It seems that what was probably the main road (or lane!) from Reading to Pangbourne prior to the Turnpike and construction of Purley Park originally went through what became the grounds of Purley Park, going downhill to connect to the road known as Purley Village at its junction with New Hill and St Mary's Avenue. It then went to the north of Purley Lodge, and then turned in a west-southwesterly direction to join what is now the A329 Purley Rise near its junction with Westbury Lane. The line of this remains as a public footpath from Purley Village to the railway bridge just south of the allotments (I remember seeing a Standard 9 2-10-0  from that bridge!). The section east of New Hill seems to have been diverted up New Hill when Purley Park was built.

As regards pubs, Purley has long been known as a village without a pub. I'd be intrigued to know where any pub was, and how long ago it closed!
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stuving
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« Reply #24 on: April 02, 2020, 10:17:09 pm »

Isn't there a lot of stuff in Project Purley! However, the building of the turnpike, and whether it followed an older road or went by another route, seems to have eluded the massed ranks of local local historians. But there are still more details to be found.

R200140, the document linked to by eightonedee, makes clear that the turnpike was moved to the south to make way for Purley Park (the house), built for Anthony Gilbert Storer around 1795. It used to run more or less straight between the current road at The Roebuck and just west of New Hill, and "a new road was constructed which ran about 300 yards south of the new house. It was bounded by a six foot flint and brick wall in traditional Berkshire style and the opportunity was taken to close off the old road to the village and construct New Hill.".

The 6" (1900) map shows part of the old track of this road, pointing towards the house from the east. It was for a short time the drive, before the new one to the south was made. There are some comments about the older road via the village at the end of R200140 but they are rather garbled.

R200144 says: "There were many 'minor' roads such as the one which snaked down the hill from the Roebuck to the church and on to Westbury..." [that's Westbury Farm]. Now, the earliest 1" map is before the railway (I have the Cassinini composite dated 1816-1830). It shows a curved line from the Church to the Roebuck, where there is nothing visible now. Of course at that scale and date you can't say what it is - path, abandoned road, wall, stream; all look the same.

So that old road would have come almost due south from the church, then curved round to the east to meet the old road a bit before it gets to The Roebuck.

Now, is there really a subway under the railway embankment near the Roebuck? It does have its own overfootbridge. The 6" map has the word subway, but it is shown on the 25" map as if it goes under the road. Topograhically, that makes no sense - so this is still a puzzle.
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Reading General
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« Reply #25 on: April 02, 2020, 10:59:06 pm »

Interesting stuff. I do enjoy clues on old maps.

I believe the subway marking to be referring to one under the Oxford (turnpike) Road rather than the railway. I've been down there to have a look on the northern side of the road in the past and couldn't find much trace. The southern side is inaccessible but would possibly have a more obvious trace as the ground is higher and a path to a subway would have required quite a cutting to reach it.

The rumoured pub was gone before or with the railway apparently, can't remember where the information came from though.
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eightonedee
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« Reply #26 on: April 02, 2020, 11:03:54 pm »

Stuving, I don't think the subway shown on the 1897 has existed for a long time if at all!  There is (or was) a pill box above the railway but set into the brick wall along the A329 on the north side at this point which is at some height above the railway, and the land rises again on the south side of the road. Unless somewhere there is (or was) a stairwell down to a tunnel somewhere in the bank on the south side of the road? But why make one here? It is quite a drop again to the river on the north side of the railway, and I think the house by the river there has a pedestrian access to the towpath where it runs to the pedestrian bridge by the Roebuck.

Did someone put the legend in the wrong place when engraving the plate for the map, when they should have put it by the tunnel connecting Purley Park to the church?
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Reading General
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« Reply #27 on: April 02, 2020, 11:18:44 pm »

The pub, the Red Lyon is mentioned on page 8 of this

http://decisionmaking.westberks.gov.uk/documents/s69452/2018-10-25%20Purley%20Parish%20Plan%20-%20Final-Report-for%20ID.pdf

This also mentions that the old road disappeared long before the railway arrived and that the pub probably went with the creation of Purley Park, and that the turnpike road was moved south to accommodate the Parkland.

Purley certainly is the oddest of Reading's suburbs, with many houses and roads but with the least amenities. Most of these areas beyond the boundary have little in the way of shops and pubs but Purley really stretches this to the limit. I would have thought the story would have been different if a rail halt had materialised. Not sure what site this could have possibly been on.
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eightonedee
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« Reply #28 on: April 03, 2020, 07:20:46 am »

Thanks for that RG. You may have gathered that this is where I was brought up!

The village/suburb certainly always had a strong sense of community despite its lack of many usual facilities.  From the Project Purley materials and the Parish Plan it seems that is still the case.
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Marlburian
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« Reply #29 on: April 03, 2020, 04:16:22 pm »

I wasn't able to find a pre-railways map of Purley on the Web, but the most recent posts have given me an idea of the route of the old road. Thanks.

Yes, that subway shown by the Roebuck is strange. The track shown on the map alongside the railway line follows the new path through the wood, certainly at its Eastern end. (Until the Council made a gateway a few years ago I used to hop over the stone wall to get to Skerritt Way.) That path runs level and comes out at the same height as Oxford Road. The old track could have run through a hollow, subsequently filled in - but why? This 1:2500 map of 1879 doesn't show a subway.*

My only other thought is there may have been a subway there before the railway was built, that served the ferry, enabling goods and perhaps people to be conveyed, saving what would have been a steep climb. The landowner might not have wanted horses pulling barges on his side of the Thames but might still have wanted the convenience of goods being delivered by water.

Then, when the railway was built, it demolished that part of the subway close to the river.

Yes, the pillbox is still, part of the WWII "stop" line. Very narrow apertures, and I did wonder at how these were angled. And a bit of a drop on to the railway should its occupants decide that discretion was the better part of valour!

* I prefer the National Library of Scotland maps archive to old-maps.co.uk, but it's in the latter where I found this map. It's VERY slow to load, and you may prefer to take my word for it that no subway is shown.
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