Friday, 9 May 2014


That probably means that a load of necessary housing won't get built, in favour of archaeologists working out what food people were eating 10,000 years ago. The homies that protested against that development are going to love that.


Mark Wadsworth said...

I've often said, one of the worst things that can happen to a developer is stumbling across from ancient stuff. This is especially likely to happen in London, all that old Roman stuff etc.

The Stigler said...

The worst part is highlighted in this article:-

"On the face of it, there is almost nothing not to like in this new wave of hi-tech archaeology. Even with the relatively expensive equipment, it is far cheaper than traditional digging (which requires small armies of human labour). It is much, much quicker. And if you decide you want a closer look, it tells you exactly where to put the spade in.

Most important of all, it leaves the archaeological remains where they are safest - under the ground. The truth is that we've probably got rather too many ruins in the world already, and certainly more than we can preserve as we would like to. Left exposed to the elements, ruins just get more and more ruined. That's the iron law of ruins. And it takes superhuman effort (and vast resources) to halt that natural process. Why add to our problems by excavating more of them?"

It used to be that you dug up the ground, grabbed the useful stuff and then moved out and got on with building.

Now, they want the stuff left there. God knows why, because the point is not the stuff but what it tells us about people. Beyond that, most of it is worthless.

DBC Reed said...

Having once roamed the environs of Coate Water I would guess its a Site of Special Scientific Interest being the only bosky area in a scene of unrelieved awfulness,so the more protection it can get the better. (Of course I may be talking about somewhere completely different but the concrete high diving board on the Website is pretty conclusive IMO.)

Bayard said...

"That probably means that a load of necessary housing won't get built"

How do you know it's necessary?

The Stigler said...


It isn't the park at Coate Water. It's the area around it which is uninteresting fields. I'd be down there with a placard if they tried to build inside the park area.

And some fool at English Heritage recently protected that useless eyesore of a diving board.

The Stigler said...


I'm guessing it is or they wouldn't be wanting to build on the land.

DBC Reed said...

The diving-board is a heritage item as it embodies (very elegantly)an inter-war lifestyle of outdoor swimming and loafing about in your trunks,eyeing up the talent. You go to inland swimming lakes in France where the latest reading for water purity is posted on the window of the well-run café.Why are they're no longer any swimming lakes in England? (I can think of another abandoned one in Luton) If the answer's polio ,how come the French can steer clear of it? If Coate water has now got historical kudos so much the better in an area which does n't have any history before Brunel and the sandwich incident.

The Stigler said...


"Why are they're no longer any swimming lakes in England?"

Because it's too cold in England and we're rich enough to have indoor pools.

The problem with history is that you can just keep everything. And it's an awful eyesore.

Bayard said...

"I'm guessing it is or they wouldn't be wanting to build on the land"

Developers get planning permission on land so that they can make money, not to provide some social need. If they think they could sell the houses, or, better still, buy the land at artificially low agricultural land prices and sell it for building land prices, it matters not one whit to them whether the houses are necessary or not. After all, they'd be just as keen to build, if not keener, if they'd pre-sold the lot to a Chinese consortium who planned to keep them all empty.

Bayard said...

DBC, Brunel and the sandwich incident? Please expand.

However I agree with TS; we are preserving too much. In the 50s and 60s we demolished too much that was genuinely historic and of merit. Now the pendulum has swung too far the other way and we preserve too much junk, simply because it's old.

DBC Reed said...

This is a Swindon in-joke; probably the only Swindon in-joke.

Brunel was munching a sandwich when was asked where to locate his railway workshops while steaming along (probably with his thumb in his waistcoat pocket) and said "Why, where my sandwich lands" and bungedinto the void the engine.Where it landed, the workshops were constructed and remained until they were torn down ,the ground beneath combusting from the accumulated boiler ashes for years after.
This is the only Swindon historical anecdote.

There is another Brunel story:asked what he would do if he met another firm's engine coming down the jointly owned track towards him, Brunel said he would accelerate his superior machine and knock it out of the way.

But this story is not specifically linked to the Swindon stretch of the line.

Brunel was hardly throwing at random as he could see the hilltop Swindon Old Town from down there in the valley.