Save Europe’s oldest street

High Street, Winchester, near Silver Hill scheme. (beautifulengland.net)

High Street, Winchester, near Silver Hill scheme. (beautifulengland.net)

I blogged on the fate of Winchester, England, Europe’s oldest main street – home of the Winchester Cathedral made famous in song – several years ago. Since then the activist group Winchester Deserves Better has been fighting the scheme (they call projects schemes in Britain). Their efforts received a pair of dismaying official setbacks this week, but that has happened before and WDB keeps on fighting. Their motto is “It’s not built ’til it’s built – and it’s not built yet.” Or something really good like that.

Winchester Cathedral. (hotelduvin.com)

Winchester Cathedral. (hotelduvin.com)

Rendering of Silver Hill development proposed for Winchester. (architectsjournal.co.uk)

Rendering of Silver Hill development proposed for Winchester. (architectsjournal.co.uk)

Here I would merely like to applaud the organization’s doughy refusal to throw in the towel. The link in the first paragraph illustrates the proposal they oppose, called the Silver Hill development, which would be behind Winchester’s High Street – its main street. As you can see from the link, the developer has proposed streets lined with the same kind of cheesy compromise of the old and the new that is contemplated for the Route 195 corridor in Providence – to which few have objected so far.

Providence, like Winchester, is a beautiful historic city that has done far less to erode its charms than most other cities its size or larger. And Rhode Island benefits along with its capital for maintaining as much of its historical character as it can. But here, as in Britain, beauty usually disappears slowly enough to raise few eyebrows in time, and before the authorities realize the value of what they have booted away so thoughtlessly, it is gone.

Every city of beauty at risk deserves to have advocates with the moxy of Winchester Deserves Better. Good luck to them as they keep up the attack on this nasty scheme.

About David Brussat

For a living, I edit the writing of some of the nation's leading architects, urbanists and design theorists. This blog was begun in 2009 as a feature of the Providence Journal, where I was on the editorial board and wrote a weekly column of architecture criticism for three decades. Architecture Here and There fights the style wars for classical architecture and against modern architecture, no holds barred. My freelance writing and editing on that topic and others addresses issues of design and culture locally and globally. I am a fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts, and a member of the board of the New England chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, which bestowed an Arthur Ross Award on me in 2002. I work from Providence, R.I., where I live with my wife Victoria, my son Billy and our cat Gato. If you would like to invest your prose with even more style and clarity, please email me at my consultancy, dbrussat@gmail.com, or call 401.351.0457. Testimonial: "Your work is so wonderful - you now enter my mind and write what I would have written." - Nikos Salingaros, mathematician at the University of Texas, architectural theorist and author of many books.
This entry was posted in Architecture, Architecture History, Art and design, Development, Other countries, Providence, Urbanism and planning and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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