Essex Area Ramblers

At the heart of walking in Essex

Network Rail brings Fame to Essex Members

In August Ramblers Central Office suggested that a video be made to ask for support in the legal battle with Network Rail over Foot Crossings they were proposing to shut. Essex members agreed and this is story of that day.

After a high level meeting at Purfleet Station car park, the production team agreed to commence filming at crossing T01 near the Rainham Marsh RSPB Reserve. After some confusion in finding the crossing the team swept into action. Laura Burley from Central Office acted as Producer/Director and Ash Stally-Chudasama acting as Film Director. Having found our way to the crossing, we were asked to walk over the crossing. Then we were asked to walk back. We were then asked to walk over the crossing again, but this time in a different order. This caused confusion as we could not remember the order from the first time. We continued this for some time until we had opened and shut the gates correctly and perfected the right order. As a break from this excitement Angela Harvey spoke to the camera on the benefits of the crossing. The Producer/ Director nodded her arrangement and announced it was a "rap". We all retired to our cars to mentally prepare ourselves for the next crossing.

This was E33 Motorbike by Pitsea Station. This time we met under the A13 flyover by the side of a recycling compound to be briefed. Most films have an exotic setting, this was ours.  We had been joined by Geoff Forward and others from the Basildon Group.With more people the issue of walking the crossing became increasing difficulty and the Producer/ Director's decision to issue numbers was helpful and lead to much reduced chaos.  Geoff Forward from Basildon spoke to the camera about the proposed closure and about this being part of the Thames Path. After a further briefing we decided to walk the proposed diversion, which required crossing the busy Pitsea Hall Lane. The attempt to film us crossing the road was abandon as it took 12 minutes due to the continuous flow of cars and heavy Lorries, and the camera ran out of power. The same could be said of the members who having reached peak performance level were frustrated at being unable to dash across the road. Having agreed that no stand in's or stunt persons would be used this was a setback. The scenery along the road with its double "S" bend, over hanging hedges and cycle path was filmed and the continuous hum of the traffic recorded. Again the Producer/Director called "rap" or I think that what she said.

The last crossing was E29 Brown and Tawse near West Horndon Station, where the proposed diversion is on to country lanes with no verges but a really high hump back bridge and fast traffic. The crossing, newly gated, painted and cleared of vegetation provided the backdrop for my few words of love for Network Rail. The Producer/Director point out the bits I had missed and by the 5th attempt it was a "rap". Again I think that’s what she said as she walked away shaking her head. We adjourned exhausted to our cars, for the Ramblers to drive to their homes to reflect on possible fame and Laura and Ash to Central Office to reduce 4 hours of action packed drama to 4 minutes and to add voice overs to bring sense to the video. For music I suggested Simon and Garfuncle's "Bridge over Troubled Crossing" or Johnny Cash's "Walk the Line."

Thanks must be given to everyone who gave up their time to attend and support this project and to Laura and Ash for their patience.

There is a serious side to this project and one which will affect all Areas across the country in the near future. This closure programme in Essex is the first of many. Network Rail intends to shut all crossings in the country over the next few years. Everyone's turn will come, and no matter how hard Footpath Secretaries work, they will not stop this by talking to Network Rail. Network Rail intends to steamroller this through and only by fighting at all levels will we retain a usable path network. We need to fight at local and national level, engage with other organisations and get Public Inquiries. These cost money as we need legal expertise, expect knowledge on road safety and rights of way as a minimum. So we would really appreciate it if you could donate to our crowdfunding campaign for legal fees at the public Inquiry - go to www.ramblers.org.uk/crowdfund. The link for the video can be found on the Area Website.

We have a duty to protect the rights of way network for the future and to do that we need to help the Ramblers with finance as well as our time.

Alan Goffee: Essex Area Chair

Monday, December 18, 2017