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Wednesday 6 January 2016

Barnsley Independent

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Flashback to Royal visit in 1975 Interchange put town on map A royal visit to Barnsley 40 years ago was close to being bog standard. Work began on the £24m Barnsley Interchange a decade ago. Comparisons with the magnificent Eurostar terminal at London St Pancras were over the top. Ian Thompson reports. CEREMONIES to mark the start of any big building tend to consist of hype, hope and a hole in the ground. Barnsley Interchange needed neither hype nor hope. Any replacement for the cramped, dank dump that was the old bus station was badly needed. The interchange-to-be attracted the sort of words beloved by architects and transport consultants. You know, hub, gateway, those sort of words. Council leader Coun Steve Houghton spoke in plainer language. “We have some pretty exciting and sometimes controversial schemes to put Barnsley on the map and this is what the interchange project is doing. “Without good transport connections, the town is not going to develop as we want it to.” The interchange had a lot going for it. It was dubbed ‘Gordon’s Meccano set’ after Gordon Fawcett, project manager, who worked for main contractor Laing O’Rourke. The roof was plastic which sheltered passengers from the rotten rain and sweltering sun. The Meccano-like steel skeleton of the building was made by Wombwell-based Billington Structures. Only 30 per cent of the steelwork — anything painted white — could be seen. A team from Royston-based Wisconco put it up. The timber beams were produced on the largest lathe in England. The ambitious plans for a new Barnsley seemed to attract a certain kind of overexcited hyperbole. An advertorial gushed: “The innovative design of this striking gateway can be compared to that of the new Eurostar hub at St Pancras.” The trouble with any big building project is that after the sod-cutting, there is sod all left to say. Until people start using the building.

Ian Thompson reports. PREPARATIONS for the royal visit in 1975 were lavish. But it was only attention to detail which stopped the visit being embarrassing for the hosts. The first problem arose when the royal party decided to travel to South Yorkshire by train. There was no fleet of Daimlers suitable for the occasion to ferry the visitors around. Heads were scratched and someone said he knew where some vehicles could be found. The VIPs’ cars were delivered to County Hall, the headquarters of South Yorkshire County Council, off Eldon Street, on the eve of the visit. County Council chief executive Tony Mallett inspected the vehicles. Gold lettering on the doors of the cars caught his eye. The words ‘Co-operative Funeral Service’ sparked alarm. Disaster was averted by a quick call to West Yorkshire County Council who lent its fleet of vehicles. On the day of the visit, County Council officials were on hand on each floor of

But at least the public got value for money. About 20,00 people packed the town centre on that sweltering day. Spectators were able to quench their thirst with a pale ale called ‘South Yorkshireman’. It was brewed to coincide with the visit and the opening of a pub of the same name on the corner of Midland Street and Kendray Street. Beer had to figure somewhere didn’t it? This was Barnsley after all.

County Hall just in case The Queen got out of the lift on the wrong floor or opened a door she shouldn’t have. The royal party had to walk from County Hall to the indoor market through the pokey reception. This raised a delicate issue. The County Hall reception was dominated by toilet doors. A tasteful screen was put in front of the offending doors to stop the regal gaze falling on them.

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FINES for littering and dog fouling continue to increase, according to a council report. The number of fixed penalty fines issued for littering and dog fouling is rising despite original projections by the council that after a period of time numbers would begin to tail off as people changed their behaviours. A quarter two performance report by the council shows 1,393 environmental fixed penalty notices were issued between July and September and there were 128 environmental enforcement related prosecutions. It also states the the net cost to the council per environmental fine issued is £71.34. Information received by the council from Barnsley Interchange suggests it has seen an improvement as, historically, litter would have to be swept outside the main entrances up to 15 times a day and this has now reduced to twice daily.

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Barnsley Independent | January 5th 2016  
Barnsley Independent | January 5th 2016  

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