Tuesday, November 24, 2015

On Being A Bit Ambivalent About Development

I can't avoid being a bit ambivalent about development. I am the first person to shout and scream at the developers who tore down so much of the West Yorkshire that I grew up with; spurred on as they were by a cocktail of profit and prophesy. With their anthems declaring that the bright new future demanded bright new roads, shopping centres and apartments they lay waste to whatever was seen as old or quirky or tired. But at the same time I don't want to live in an environment that has been pickled in malt vinegar, unchanging and ridiculously old-fashioned like an email written on vellum.

Such thoughts are spurred by this photograph I took back in 1970 or 1971 when construction of what was to become Burdock Way in Halifax got under way. The route of the road is like a giant scar violating the Yorkshire earth, and I long to see the houses and mills and factories that once inhabited what were to become the concrete fields of Halifax. 

But then I remember that, in the main, they were poky little back-to-back houses with outside toilets and damp bedrooms thrown up by some early nineteenth century developer who was equally spurred on by profit and a belief that the workers of the new Victorian age needed new Victorian housing. 

As I say, I am a bit ambivalent about development.


  1. You're beginning to sound like John Betjeman and his tirades against speculators and town planners and their inflexible rules.

    1. "I am a young executive. No cuffs than mine are cleaner;
      I have a Slimline brief-case and I use the firm's Cortina.
      In every roadside hostelry from here to Burgess Hill
      The maîtres d'hôtel all know me well, and let me sign the bill".

      How's the new Consultancy going?

  2. We moved "to the middle of the country" 28 years ago. The houses, apartments, sidewalks, and shopping all is now five miles down the road. I think of all the money and wonder where it came from.

  3. I have some of those old vellum emails. The way the words are arranged in neatly spaced terminal fonts look so quaint I can't seem to throw them away. And as long as you keep them away from mice they will probably last forever.

  4. Good post. I just ordered "Icons of England" edited by Bill Bryson, since I understand it celebrates icons that are sometimes disappearing. I see the money from the book goes to a group that is working to preserve English rural treasures.

  5. It's all the same. It's about the bucks! Euros! Pounds!

  6. Progress is never pretty:(


Black Friar

For a time, during the late 1970s, I had a job leading parties of foreign visitors on tours of historic London pubs. One of my favourite sto...