Don't let Lewes go the
Newbury way - Emma Chaplin
I recently revisited my hometown of Newbury in Berkshire.
I think I fell for Lewes because it reminded me of the place
I grew up, a place almost unrecognisable from Newbury today.
Some bits are the same. We picnicked in the ruins of Donnington
Castle, and wandered around Snelsmore Common, still the brackeny,
heathery place I remember. But of course it’s not the
really the same. The landscape has been slashed by the bypass.
My childish rebellion has been to refuse to relearn the geography,
so I can't find my way around anymore. I was shocked as a
child by the District Council’s decision to knock down
a beautiful old china shop with a vine growing up the middle
to accommodate McDonalds. And since then, many beautiful buildings
have been demolished to make way for the place Newbury has
become - wealthy, successful Vodafone Town. It’s like
the Truman Show. Almost no unemployment. Executive housing
estates and sprawling shopping malls have mushroomed. And
the traffic since the bypass? Terrible. Sitting up on Donnington
it all looked the same. Until you looked closely, then you
see that what were fields are now a golf course. This sounds
reactionary I know, actually I like a lot of modern architecture.
But I want my childhood home to be recognisable, and I want
that to be true for my son in Lewes too.