Monday 28 Nov 2016
Local war survivor honoured in naming of new Surrey footbridge by Network Rail
A new footbridge opened by Network Rail at Gomshall station in Surrey has been officially named ‘Rosa’s Bridge’ in honour of Rosa Sigal, a local landowner who left Germany in the 1930s after she lost her job because she was Jewish, and eventually settled in England.
Rosa first moved to Italy after leaving Germany, where she found work as a hotel receptionist, and then moved to Britain in 1939, shortly before the outbreak of World War II. Once in Britain, Rosa spent time working as a domestic servant in a Scottish castle before moving to London for hotel work, where she ended up as head bookkeeper at the Great Western Hotel in Paddington, London.
With money she received from the German government after the war, as well as her pension from Germany, she first bought a flat and rented it out, and eventually bought the entire apartment block with a friend. As well as enjoying travelling with her sister, Rosa also enjoyed going to auctions and decided to buy the land in Gomshall at auction for her four great-nephews, who all adored her and still miss her now.
The new, fully-accessible footbridge was installed by Network Rail as part of its ongoing programme to improve safety at level crossings in Britain, and David Gould, Rosa’s great-nephew, worked closely with Network Rail to provide the land necessary to install the bridge.
The new footbridge was officially opened on Friday (25 November) by Stuart Kistruck, director of route asset management at Network Rail alongside the Gould family, Sir Paul Beresford MP and representatives from Great Western Railway (GWR), Surrey County Council, Guildford Borough Council and Shere Parish Council.
Commenting at the opening of the bridge, Stuart Kistruck, director of route asset management at Network Rail, said: “We’re constantly investing in a better railway as part of our Railway Upgrade Plan, but working so closely with the Gould family to make the investment in Gomshall possible obviously has special significance.
“Rosa’s story is one of fantastic determination, so it is right that she should be duly honoured for the legacy she has here. We’re now providing a safe and accessible way to get between the platforms at Gomshall, which we couldn’t have done without the help of the Gould family.”
David Gould, Rosa’s great-nephew said: “Auntie Rosa would have been thrilled to have a bridge named after her, particularly one that is so important to the safety of the crossing."
MP for Mole Valley, Sir Paul Beresford, said: “I am delighted both that Network Rail has provided the new bridge for the Gomshall village railway station, but has also had the sensitivity and imagination to name the bridge after a known local village person, especially one with such a history.”
The new bridge was installed in close partnership with Great Western Railway (GWR), which manages Gomshall station.
Tom Pierpoint, regional development manager at GWR said: “We recognise the key role that rail plays in the local and national economy; and are delighted this vital improvement work to improve access at the station has been completed. It is great for us to be able to work with our partners, the local community, and Rosa’s family, to deliver benefits that we all wish to see.”
Passengers and local residents who use the crossing will now benefit from the safer walking route, which provides ramped and stepped access across the railway.
About Network Rail
Network Rail owns, manages and develops Britain's railway - the 20,000 miles of track, 40,000 bridges and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations (the largest of which we also run). In partnership with train operators we help people take more than 1.65bn journeys by rail every year and move hundreds of millions of tonnes of freight, saving almost 8m lorry journeys. We employ 38,000 people across Britain and work round-the-clock, each and every day, to provide a safe, reliable railway.
About the Railway Upgrade Plan
The Railway Upgrade Plan is Network Rail's investment plan for Britain's railways. It makes up two-thirds of Network Rail's £40bn spending priorities for the five years to 2019 and represents the biggest sustained programme of rail modernisation since the Victoria era. It is designed to provide more capacity, relieve crowding and respond to the tremendous growth Britain's railways continue to experience; passenger numbers have doubled in the past 20 years and are set to double again over the next 25 years - so we need to continue to invest in building a bigger, better railway. For passengers, that means:
- longer, faster more frequent trains;
- better, more reliable infrastructure; and
- better facilities for passengers, especially at stations.