Twenty Years of the Newbury Bypass
Driving south down the A34, bypassing the old market town of Newbury, it’s easy to forget that twenty years ago, this was the site of one of the greatest – and most costly – anti-road protests in European history.
Some of us here at Newbury Mobility have lived in the area long enough clearly to remember the impassioned protests against the construction of the Newbury Bypass, and the accompanying furore.
While the Newbury Mobility blog is not the place to debate the pros and cons of the bypass, both the planning and the construction processes were highly controversial and ultimately had a significant effect on the road planning that followed.
It runs through an area previously designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest as well as an Area of Outstanding National Beauty. It also runs through the site of the first Battle of Newbury of 1643, and a National Trust nature reserve. 360 acres of land were cleared and 10,000 mature trees were felled to make way for the dual-carriageway.
However, in an admittedly completely unscientific survey conducted here in the offices of Newbury Mobility, the impression is that the bypass has succeeded in reducing travel time to areas surrounding Newbury and has also reduced the enormous volume of traffic that used to crawl its way through the town itself.
Also interesting to note is that, in terms of the inevitable environmental destruction that was wrought, the 200,000 trees that were planted to replace the 10,000 that were felled, are now beginning to mature. (Did the Newbury bypass tree-huggers change anything? – Great article on the BBC’s website by Linda Serck with lots of interesting video clips.)
If you’re interest in reading more, there is another good article from The Guardian here that explores the legacy of the bypass.
“All Things Must Pass,” as the late great George Harrison said, and these days most of us tend to take the Newbury Bypass for granted, rarely giving it a second thought. But next time you’re whizzing along it, see if you can spot the one surviving oak tree, known as Middle Oak, perched above the Northbound carriageway, just by the services.
One thing we can say without fear of contradiction or being controversial is that Newbury is a great town and a wonderful place to live – as is the surrounding area. We wouldn’t wish to be anywhere else and it allows us to get to all of our customers in Berkshire, Oxfordshire Wiltshire and Hampshire easily. We look forward to seeing you some time soon.
All the best
Andy and The Team