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Culture Forum

  1. Subscriber FMF
    a.k.a. John W Booth
    11 May '11 05:16
    "Britain needs more Stamfords and less Peterboroughs." W.G.Hoskins, of "The Making of The English Landscape" fame, said that in 1955. Is it still true today? Was it ever true?
  2. 11 May '11 11:11
    You'd think he'd correctly use "fewer" rather than "less", wouldn't you?
  3. Subscriber FMF
    a.k.a. John W Booth
    11 May '11 11:30 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by mtthw
    You'd think he'd correctly use "fewer" rather than "less", wouldn't you?
    It's a resurfaced memory of something I read 29 years ago. The dodgy grammar is mine. He may have referred to 'England' rather than 'Britain', too.
  4. Standard member Palynka
    Upward Spiral
    11 May '11 12:16
    Originally posted by FMF
    It's a resurfaced memory of something I read 29 years ago. The dodgy grammar is mine. He may have referred to 'England' rather than 'Britain', too.
    What do Stamford and Peterborough proxy for?
  5. Subscriber FMF
    a.k.a. John W Booth
    11 May '11 12:31
    Originally posted by Palynka
    What do Stamford and Peterborough proxy for?
    Stamford wanted to be on the main north south train route but Peterborough got the nod. Stamford continues to be a picture postcard Midlands town while Peterborough is a faceless urban coagulation. Before the construction of the railway, Stamford and Peterborough were comparable mid-sized towns 45 minutes from each other in a Morris Minor.
  6. Standard member Palynka
    Upward Spiral
    11 May '11 13:26 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by FMF
    Stamford wanted to be on the main north south train route but Peterborough got the nod. Stamford continues to be a picture postcard Midlands town while Peterborough is a faceless urban coagulation. Before the construction of the railway, Stamford and Peterborough were comparable mid-sized towns 45 minutes from each other in a Morris Minor.
    The English countryside is fascinating because it's full of such Stamfords and Peterboroughs. Lovely, well-tended, pretty small towns and ghastly over-urbanized small towns which neither have the positives of city life (cultural and social opportunities, etc.) nor the ones of rural towns (tranquility, nature, etc.).

    Living in such Peterboroughs sounds like hell on earth for me. Urban places can and should be better.
  7. Subscriber FMF
    a.k.a. John W Booth
    11 May '11 14:37
    Originally posted by Palynka
    The English countryside is fascinating because it's full of such Stamfords and Peterboroughs. Lovely, well-tended, pretty small towns and ghastly over-urbanized small towns which neither have the positives of city life (cultural and social opportunities, etc.) nor the ones of rural towns (tranquility, nature, etc.).

    Living in such Peterboroughs sounds like hell on earth for me. Urban places can and should be better.
    I grew up: about 20 mins by bike from farmland and forest; 25 minutes from the centre of London by train [the one that didn't stop everywhere]; it was a bit of a dormitory town but also, luckily, a cultural/historical/tourist centre too. Since those times, I have lived in the inner city of three enormous national capitals and was never really comfortable despite its advantages. Nor am I genuine country boy - that hankering was fully catered for and flogged to death by numerous Cider With Rosie type holidays in Ireland when I was a kid, staying with family in the particular beautiful but limited part of the back of the beyond where they lived.
  8. 12 May '11 11:59
    Originally posted by Palynka
    The English countryside is fascinating because it's full of such Stamfords and Peterboroughs. Lovely, well-tended, pretty small towns and ghastly over-urbanized small towns which neither have the positives of city life (cultural and social opportunities, etc.) nor the ones of rural towns (tranquility, nature, etc.).

    Living in such Peterboroughs sounds like hell on earth for me. Urban places can and should be better.
    Then again, they do often have the advantage of being well connected to the infrastructure, meaning that if you want to visit either of the others, it's easier than for a city-dweller to see a forest or for a countrysider to visit a real museum. And there are typically more jobs than in rural areas, and more of certain kinds than in big cities.

    Richard
  9. Standard member Palynka
    Upward Spiral
    12 May '11 12:47
    Originally posted by Shallow Blue
    Then again, they do often have the advantage of being well connected to the infrastructure, meaning that if you want to visit either of the others, it's easier than for a city-dweller to see a forest or for a countrysider to visit a real museum. And there are typically more jobs than in rural areas, and more of certain kinds than in big cities.

    Richard
    In general I agree that such urban areas can be very nice places to live in, but that's not my perception of the reality of English Peterboroughs. Crewe is another example. Horrible railway town and just next to it you find lovely places like Nantwich or Chester. It's the contrast that I find staggering.
  10. Subscriber FMF
    a.k.a. John W Booth
    12 May '11 15:32
    Originally posted by Palynka
    The English countryside is fascinating because it's full of such Stamfords and Peterboroughs.
    I have managed to lay a hand on that W.G. Hoskins book [which is about landscape archaeology] and here is an extract from his rather downhearted epilogue [to an otherwise cheerful and spirited book]:

    And this was written in 1955 mind you...

    "What else has happened in the immemorial landscape of the English landscape? Airfields have flayed it bare wherever there are level, well-drained stretches of land, above all in eastern England. Poor devastated Lincolnshire and Suffolk! And those long gentle lines of the dip-slope of the Cotswolds, those misty uplands of the sheep-grey oolite, how they have lent themselves to the villainous requirements of the new age! Over them drones day after day the obscene shape of the atom-bomber, laying a trail like a filthy slug upon Constable's and Gainsborough's sky. England of the Nissen hut, the 'pre-fab', and the electric fence, of the high barbed wire around some unmentionable devilment; England of the arterial bypass, stinking of diesel oil, murderous with lorries; England of the bombing range wherever there was once silence, as on Otmoor or the marshlands of Lincolnshire; England of battle-training areas on the Breckland heaths, and tanks crashing through empty ruined Wiltshire villages; England of high-explosives falling on the prehistoric monuments of Dartmoor. Barbaric England of the scientists, military men, and the politicians: let us turn away and contemplate the past before all is lost to the vandals."
  11. Subscriber FMF
    a.k.a. John W Booth
    12 May '11 15:36
    Originally posted by Palynka
    Crewe is another example. Horrible railway town and just next to it you find lovely places like Nantwich or Chester.
    My last two trips to the U.K. have been to exactly this area. My mother lives in Winsford [dreary, soulless] and shops in Nantwich [nice] and Chester [nice in the middle] and my sister lives in Wrexham [better than Crewe, that's all I'll say], while she used to live in Chirk [really nice].
  12. Standard member Palynka
    Upward Spiral
    12 May '11 15:49
    Originally posted by FMF
    My last two trips to the U.K. have been to exactly this area. My mother lives in Winsford [dreary, soulless] and shops in Nantwich [nice] and Chester [nice in the middle] and my sister lives in Wrexham [better than Crewe, that's all I'll say], while she used to live in Chirk [really nice].
    From my discussion with Shallow Blue, I think what England needs is better Peterboroughs and not necessarily more Stamfords. There's no reason why railway towns have to be that dreary or soulless, but the type of economic activity that goes on there is probably good for the region.
  13. Subscriber FMF
    a.k.a. John W Booth
    12 May '11 16:41
    Originally posted by FMF
    My last two trips to the U.K. have been to exactly this area. My mother lives in Winsford [dreary, soulless] and shops in Nantwich [nice] and Chester [nice in the middle] and my sister lives in Wrexham [better than Crewe, that's all I'll say], while she used to live in Chirk [really nice].
    ...and my older sister lives in Stamford [nice but not good for shopping] and goes into Peterborough [not so nice but good for shopping] most Saturdays.
  14. 13 May '11 12:57 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by Palynka
    From my discussion with Shallow Blue, I think what England needs is better Peterboroughs and not necessarily more Stamfords.
    I think you've hit the nail on the head there.

    One thing that's quite noticeable over the last, oh, about 20 years, is some of the regeneration that's gone on in some of the bigger UK cities. Places like Leeds, Manchester, Bristol are much more interesting than they used to be. Perhaps some of the smaller industrial towns have missed out on this and need some similar treatment.
  15. 14 May '11 17:05
    Originally posted by Palynka
    From my discussion with Shallow Blue, I think what England needs is better Peterboroughs and not necessarily more Stamfords. There's no reason why railway towns have to be that dreary or soulless, but the type of economic activity that goes on there is probably good for the region.
    True, that. It may be that one of the reasons for this Slough of despond is that Britain got trains before anyone else, and then ripped most of them out (a pox on the house of Beeching!). Couple this with growth spurts in exactly those periods with the most industrial taste (the Industrial Revolution and the fifties, for example), and you get a landscape which is dotted with horrible factory towns, which are the best connected spots in the train (and road) network.
    Contrast with, e.g., the Netherlands, where the growth spurts happened in less industriocratic eras (the late 17th/early 18th century; and in the previous century, the seventies), with a rather more balanced development as a result. (Then again, we have Lelystad; you can't have everything )

    Richard