Thursday, July 27, 2006


Locals in Frinton, Essex have reacted angrily to Network Rail plans to replace their manually controlled gated crossing with a CCTV-controlled full-barrier.

Known as 'the gates', it marks the entry point into the town. House prices for properties 'within the gates' are higher than outside. The gates themselves feature in the logo of Frinton and Walton Town Council.

Terry Allen, deputy mayor of Frinton, has said that the proposed change could be opposed to such a degree that there would be "scenes reminiscent of the poll tax riots". He suggests that the loss of the gates in Frinton would be like London losing Tower Bridge.

Network Rail have said that they will look to donate the old gates to the town for preservation. The crossing upgrade is part of the £100m Colchester-Clacton signalling upgrade which will remove crossings manned by signal staff and replace them with a Colchester-based controller via CCTV.

Comment: Blue-rinsed old dears and Tufton Buftons chaining themselves to the crossing, then? I can understand the sentiment, but fear that Terry Allen protests too much. Frankly, if your most photogenic landmark is a set of crossing gates, your town has an image problem. All this from the town that held out having a pub for fear of what anti-social niughtmares it might bring to the town. Yes, NR are looking to save money by converting the crossings. Yes, it's sad when a bit of rail heritage goes. But where's the alternative? Fully automatic gates? Or perhaps Mr Allen would like to take on the duties of a full-time (albeit unpaid) crossing keeper?

I'd have illustrated this story with a stunning picture of these clearly world-famous gates.... but try finding a decent picture on the net (excluding those in recent news reports). The lack of them speaks volumes...


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