A few years ago Railcam were kindly offered a new site to broadcast from.
Railworld Wildlife Haven straddles the River Nene in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire. Situated a few hundred yards from Peterborough Railway station, beside the March line and on the site of the former power station coal yard to the north with the south bordering the Nene Valley Railway on the former LNWR shed site.
Railcam have until now operated two cameras from the site. The first is above the now redundant viewing platform and has been upgraded to a new higher specification PTZ camera than what was previously in use.
The new camera should allow Railcam to provide a closer view of the ECML activity and will be concentrated in that area on a permanent basis. We should have excellent views of services from LNER, EMR, Thameslink, Greater Anglia, Hull Trains and Cross Country as well as the heavy freight quantity that use the March line.
The second camera was located on the ‘Geoffrey G Steels Bridge’ – named because his personal legacy paid for it! This connects the north and south areas of the haven, crossing the River Nene it provides views of the curved bridge as the March line passes beneath the ECML. This camera has also been replaced with an upgraded model which should provide us with some exceptional viewing over the river. We even have swans and the occasional boat if that interests you while waiting for the next 66 hauled freight.
Railcam have now secured additional viewpoints at Railworld.
The first of these is on the newly built signal box viewing room. Built on the original footprint of the old Nene Junction box, the volunteers have created this wonderful facility for those wishing to view from a signalman’s perspective.
The box has been painted in its original green and cream colours and includes a monitor for viewing the camera and the local diagram. The volunteers involved in this project are rightly proud of what they have created and it is likely to be a very popular addition to the attraction.
The camera is located on the corner of the box and has fantastic views of the freight passing just a few feet away. Facing Peterborough direction, you will be able to see many of those freight trains waiting for the points to change before heading past the location. You will also be able to view the Greater Anglia class 755 “Flirt” passing on a regular basis as well as EMR and Crosscountry services.
The fourth camera, which is yet to be activated, is positioned on the Nene end of the viewing platform. Facing towards the curved bridge it will give a similar view to the signal box camera but from the opposite direction.
All of the cameras are the latest high definition models and have their own additional external microphones for added quality. Three of the cameras are currently live on Railcam with the fourth still in test mode.
Railworld Wildlife Haven began life over 35 years ago when the Reverend Richard Paten purchased the Standard Class 5 locomotive for £3,000 that was the spark that ignited the passion for the Nene valley Railway.
However, this wasn’t enough for the Reverend and so he purchased the disused power station coal yard. His intention was to create a museum but the funding to support the venture wasn’t available so instead, he asked his friend Brian Pearce for ideas and suggestions.
Brian, an enthusiastic conservationist suggested creating a wildlife haven in the middle of a city. The rest they say is history but that history and today’s environment is down to the countless numbers of volunteers and businesses that have driven this project from a coal yard and old shed site into an area of tranquility that makes it hard to believe you are in a city.
This is a charity site, everything here is donated and Brian tells us how one of the footbridges was completed one plank at a time as that was all they could afford at the time. The end result is a mix of enthusiastic volunteers with recycling of old railway structures creating a living classroom for local schools and environmental groups.
The northern part of the site also boasts the ‘Globe Hall Earth Centre’ that took 19 years to build. It is complete with classroom and many interactive activities. There is a giant 2.5 metre World at the centre, created by volunteers. Remarkably it’s all solar powered driven, utilising a redundant car park barrier gate drive. Brian cheerily tells us how children use it to locate Countries around the World and even the city of Coventry!
As you walk around the Haven you will see 3 Victorian bridges. These once formed part of an aqueduct built by the GNR at Abbots Ripton and were donated by Network Rail who couldn’t bear to see them scrapped.
You will come across various engine parts, the new signal box and my favourite, a Norwegian track cycle that visitors are allowed to use along a small section of track.
As you cross the River Nene you are using yet another bit of recycled railway infrastructure. This is the old footbridge from north of Darlington station where it used to connect the old steam shed (51A) with the diesel depot. Funded by a legacy from lifelong rail enthusiast Geoff Steels, it connects to the old Peterborough bridge to reach the South side.
The south is dominated by railway. The largest exhibit is the 50 year old RTV 31 Hovertrain. Once seen to be the future of railways, it was fully automatic and driver-less, and designed for 300 MPH – London to Edinburgh in 90 mins! On test near Cambridge it reached 104 MPH but was sadly shelved and then dropped after its trials in the fens.
There is over 2,000 sqft of model railways, some SG locos in need of restoration, and even the surprise of the original London North Western Railway turntable pit. This has now been uncovered and it’s cut stone edgings, found in the pit have been put back in position
Railworld not only wants visitors. It needs volunteers for just about every job. If you have an interest in helping please contact them directly to offer whatever support you can.
This is an ideal location for the family, with “Entertain and Educate” being the Railworld catchphrase. With access to the Nene valley railway adjacent to the southern side it provides the perfect day out for rail enthusiasts and their families.
Brian Pearce said, ” We are delighted to be furthering our relationship with Railcam. With sustainable rail travel being the most environmentally favourable form of transport for passenger and freight, we believe Railworld Wildlife Haven is the prime location to view the changing face of the railway”.
He continued, ” It also highlights our commitment to the UK’s Circular Economy. We are the elected ‘Champions of Re-use, Re-purpose and Share’! Re-using redundant and unwanted items from the railway makes the Railworld Wildlife Haven the perfect location for children as well as rail
enthusiasts to learn about what can be achieved when volunteers, companies, groups and individuals work together for a common cause. Our partnership with Railcam furthers our exposure and will help us attract more visitors and
volunteers to continue our work” “
Railcam director, Adrian Bradshaw added : “We are delighted to be able to renew our successful relationship with Railworld. Brian has been hugely supportive of what we do and it’s great to be able to contribute to the fantastic work that he and his volunteers do there. The Peterborough cameras were already firm favourites among our members, so the addition of extra views and improved quality will only cement their position as some of the best cameras in our expanding portfolio.”