A couple of weeks ago I went for a bike ride on a sunny Saturday. July 2014 has been a pleasure for bike riders because there has been lovely warm weather and almost no rain.
Hampshire and Berkshire has some of the most scenic windy country lanes available offering breathtaking views and wonderful colours. Early summer presented rolling hills of yellow as the Oilseed Rape came into blossom and then came the 50 shades of Green for as far as the eye can see. As midsummer takes hold the surprising changing colours of the countryside settle and it is up to the rider to search for hidden no so obvious gems to occupy the mind.
One such treasure is situated between the villages of Stratfield Saye and Mortimer on the Hants/Berks border along the train line (national cycle route 23) between Basingstoke and Reading. The site in question is seen by hundreds of people a day whizzing past on the train but few will ever take notice of the significance of it.
Westwood, Baillie and Co was a Victorian engineering and shipbuilding based in Cubitt Town, London until 1893. Joseph Westwood one half of the partnership continues the buisiness as Joseph Westwood and Co. One notable bridge created by the company is the Landsdown Bridge over the Indus river in Pakistan which was constructed with over 3,300 tons of Westwood and Ballie’s work.
As I explored these quite lanes I came across a damaged plaque on an old iron bridge. As I rested from the ride I investigated more to see that it was built by Joseph Westwood and Co in the year 1896. I was standing looking at a plaque that was placed there 118 years prior. I was so take aback that I had to research the company when I returned.
With so many people passing this site each day yet hardly anyone paying attention to it I think it is one of the great hidden gems in Southern England and one to fully appreciate by bicycle.