Weekend Wandering: Farewell to the White House

View from the end of the platform at Chippenham railway station until 12/10/2017

Chippenham lost one of its iconic buildings yesterday, known locally as the White House. This was the view of it from the end of the platform at the railway station. It was part of the Westinghouse (then Invensys then Siemens) site where NAH worked, and I always looked out for it coming home on the train from Swindon or London. Not only did the White House welcome me home, it was my signal to get up and leave the train.

View of the White House from the far end of Hathaway Retail Park

A few weeks ago I arrived ultra early for a train one Saturday morning and knowing of the White House's imminent demise, I decided to have a final look. The site is being cleared for redevelopment and I've never understood why this building couldn't be incorporated into the housing scheme set to replace it. There is nothing quite like it in the rest of Chippenham and I'm sure there was scope for conversion into apartments.

The full view of the White House

Here's the full view of the building. As you can see its final incarnation was as a furniture store. This moved some time ago to less characterful buildings on the opposite side of the station. Walking around the building I was struck how easily and quickly nature starts to reclaim a site for its own.

Buddleja takes hold on the side of the White House

You can always count on Buddleja to make its move, particularly on a site so close to a railway.

Buddleja wrapping itself around a window

More Buddleja showing how little encouragement or space it needs to take hold, plus an unintentional selfie.

Brambles hug the air conditioning

Brambles wrap themselves around the air conditioning...

Lichen on the railings

.. lichens take a liking to peeling paint and the decorative metal fencing at the building's boundary...

Plant of unknown ID exploits a tiny crack in the wall

... and a tiny plant gains a foothold in the wall's paintwork. Even at its demise this building has beauty, in my eyes at least.

Ear plugs carefully wrapped around the railings

I wondered who'd discarded their ear plugs. Was it a deliberate act of someone who'd left there, or are they simply lost (the way they're wrapped around the railing suggests the former)?

A shadowy selfie leaning over the railings

Playing with shadows and leaving my mark on the building.

Flotsam and jetsam of a building site

Today the gents toilet is no more...

... and the White House looks more like this.

The shadow of the White House leans over the building site

Part way through the demolition and with some of the buildings left for scale, the huge size of the site is revealed.

CCTV sign

I chuckled to myself when I saw this: were my antics carefully recorded then pondered over by a security guard?

At the site of the entrance gate

It's the end of my tour...

The most recent name for the Westinghouse site

... with a final poke of my camera through the fence to record a rather ironic looking sign.

I'll be back later to see what the public planting looks like on the redeveloped site.


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