Water Eaton grain silo is demolished

The Water Eaton grain silo is now a thing of the past after a giant crane was brought in towards the end of last month to begin the task of pulling the building down

The Water Eaton grain silo is now a thing of the past after a giant crane was brought in towards the end of last month to begin the task of pulling the building down

First published in News
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Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Council Reporter, also covering Oxford city centre. Call me on 01865 425429

FOR decades it has dominated the skyline from the A34 and the Oxford-Kidlington Road.

But now the landmark Water Eaton grain silo is no more.

It has been demolished to make way for the new Oxford Parkway railway station which Chiltern Railways is building.

David Betts, the chairman of Kidlington Parish Council, said he wouldn’t miss the building.

He said: “We have always actively supported the new station and the link which is being created up to Bicester and into London.

“I know there are a lot of people who have some sentimental views about it, but the building hasn’t performed any function for years and in my personal view it is a bit of an eyesore.

“It is being replaced by an important piece of infrastructure which will be giving something to the community.”

The Water Eaton grain silo was built at the start of the Second World War but the building has fallen into disrepair and has become a target for vandals and graffiti artists.

The silo’s demolition is part of Chiltern Railway’s £150m plan to create a new Oxford-London service via Bicester and High Wycombe to Marylebone.

In February, the line between Bicester and Oxford is due to close to allow work to take place.

Stephen Barker, chief project engineer at Chiltern Railways said: “Preparation work continues ahead of the start of construction of our new line from Oxford to London Marylebone.

“The demolition of the grain silo on the site of the new Oxford Parkway station is a key milestone of the Bicester to Oxford project and is a case of clearing out the old ready for the new, with the station and launch of train services expected to start running from summer 2015.”

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When the new station – with its car park of more than 800 spaces – opens in summer 2015 it will be the first one to open in Oxfordshire since 1935.

Rob Mole, programme manager, Network Rail said: “Demolition of the silos on the Oxford to Bicester railway line is necessary to prepare the site of the new Oxford Parkway station.

“The station will serve fast Chiltern services to London Marylebone, and East West Rail services between Oxford and Milton Keynes and Bedford, delivering better rail connectivity to the region.”

‘IT’S STRANGE NOT SEEING IT THERE NOW’

Kidlington resident Peter Brain worked at the grain silo in the summer of 1965 after leaving school and before starting an apprenticeship.

He spent most of the summer moving large bags of grain from lorries into the silo.

The 64-year-old, right, said: “It was my first job. It was physically very hard because the grain came in sacks.

“The lorries backed up to a loading and unloading bay and we would carry those sacks from the back of the lorry and tip the grain out. It was hard work, but I was young and fit.

“The building was becoming progressively more and more covered in graffiti and I suppose it was an eyesore, but I have got so used to seeing it there.

“It was such a prominent local landmark that it looks a bit strange not seeing it there now.”

Staff found it difficult to cope in the 1960s

THE grain silo was built during the Second World War to help feed the nation when supplies were short.

Grain including wheat, barley and oats, would be taken mechanically to the top of the seven-storey building and cascade through a series of driers on each floor.

It would then be stored in 200-tonne bins for use by millers, brewers and cereal manufacturers.

In the early years, few farmers used it and by the mid-1950s there were fears it might close.

But by the 1960s, possibly because of wet harvests and the need to dry grain, farmers flocked to it, and some years demand for space was so great that staff found it difficult to cope.

The Oxford Mail reported in 1968: “The silo is working flat out as the delayed Oxfordshire harvest moves into top gear.

“The great rush has started, with queues of lorries waiting to tip the corn in huge heaps outside the silo.”

By the 1970s the silo had reached its 6,000 tonne capacity.

The silo closed in the late 1980s, after which the yard and outbuildings were used by several businesses, including a pet food supplier and a car breaker.

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