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Monday, 23 October 2017

Nothing changes

"It must be confessed that the English population is lacking in the primary instincts necessary for the creation  and maintenance of agreeable surroundings to a greater extent than any other nation in Western civilisation".

This was written by the "Roads Beautifying Association" in their Roadside Planting book of 1930, published by Country Life. It was said in reaction to wanton destruction of most of the trees and shrubs planted by the roadsides in the 1920's.

Stanley Baldwin, Prime Minister, said in 1927 "There ought to be an unwritten code that to defile any of these great roads, either by ugly surroundings, by hoggish behaviour along them, or by upsetting or spilling litter on them, should be a bar to a man from entering any decent club or any decent home circle".

There is a very interesting history surrounding the RBA and its precursor the Roads of Remembrance Association. They make for fascinating reading and it makes you wonder if the 1930 quote I began with, contains an element of truth.

2 comments:

Steve Blacksmith said...

It would be nice to live in a National Park or an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. But most of us can't. It puts the property values up massively! That's one good thing about living in places like tatty old Calderdale, and some people can appreciate the beauty in shabby; old and much used, plenty of stories to tell.

Those who can afford say, a roadside cottage in Nidderdale, they must be so anxious. They are in fact, by the number of signs all over the place, telling us townies not to do this, not to do that.

Wild birds, insects, animals and plants are fortunately oblivious to the picturesque.

Philip said...

Hi Steve, I think what the RBA was upset about was the sheer wanton vandalism of most of the roadside trees that were being planted. Even the ones that were planted in memory of people who had died in the Great War were vandalised, along with their memorial plaques.

Same behaviour happens in our own times.

I agree with you that wildlife is oblivious to the picturesque but it is rather unfortunate that humans are also indifferent to it.