Phil Gillam: Paddington stationed at Shrewsbury for exhibition of teddy bears
Bears and railways. Okay. First obvious connection – Paddington of course!
Second connection (less obvious) is that stories on both topics appeared in the Shrewsbury Chronicle last week.
Why bears? Well, just put that marmalade sandwich to one side for a moment, and put that jar of honey down, and I’ll tell you.
Bears are coming to Shrewsbury.
Yes. Yes. Yes. Because, you see, there’s going to be a rather lovely exhibition next month at the Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery, featuring those cuddly, friendly bears that have been the furry heroes of numerous children’s books ever since teddy bears first appeared in the early 1900s.
So whether you’re admirers of the Brown family who take care of Paddington in their home at 32 Windsor Gardens or whether you’re more of a Hundred Acre Wood kind of a person, you’ll find something adorable here.
Kicking off on February 16, the display will allow visitors to come face to face and paw to paw with their favourite bears … and there’s nothing grisly – or even grizzly, to be honest – about that.
Winnie the Pooh and Paddington will definitely be there and maybe they’ll be rubbing hairy shoulders with Rupert the Bear, Yogi Bear, Baloo from The Jungle Book, and what about the Three Bears from Goldilocks? Who knows?
The exhibition has been created by Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children’s Books.
Visitors young and old will be able to hunt for bears in a specially created forest and also look at original manuscripts and illustrations from famous names including Philip Pullman, Michael Rosen, Martin Waddell, Julia Donaldson and many more.
Children will be able to bring along their own bear and read a story in a cosy bear cave.
The exhibition runs until April 28. For tickets, see www.shrewsburymuseum.org.uk
And now to trains …
I’ve always been enchanted by the romance of the railways and so this story really caught my eye.
It appears that the Department of Transport (DfT) has confirmed it is actively working with a number of groups to explore the possibility of reopening old rail lines which closed as part of the famous (infamous?) Beeching cuts in the 1960s.
Stations like Oswestry and Ellesmere in Shropshire, and Carno in Mid Wales, were among those hit by the cuts.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling is encouraging those in the public and private sector to submit proposals for projects to regenerate such old lines.
A case of what goes around comes around?
A DfT spokesman said: “We are continuing to grow the rail network to deliver improvements for passengers, unlock new housing and support the economy, including by exploring opportunities to restore previously lost capacity.”
He went on to say that, due to confidentiality issues around its market-led approach, the department was not yet in a position to release details of proposed projects but hoped to be able to provide more information this year.
I well remember a dear friend of mine suggesting a decade ago that the Shrewsbury to Bridgnorth line should be re-instated, thus linking the county town to the magnificent Severn Valley Railway with its beautiful steam-hauled trains. The idea at the time seemed totally unrealistic to me – and I can’t say I’ve changed my mind since, however lovely such a link would be.
Such a project would cost a fortune and would also involve many diversions from the original route as the old trackways out of Shrewsbury are now popular walkways and cycleways through modern housing estates. I just cannot see that one ever being viable.
Pursuing that particular idea would, I think, be a wild goose chase. I’d much rather (going back to my first topic this week) spend my time going on a bear hunt! … Goose chase? Bear hunt? Oh, never mind.