Betjeman hated expansion

PUBLISHED: 12:28 21 September 2006 | UPDATED: 09:52 31 May 2010

With all the interesting coverage about Sir John Betjeman, it is fitting to remind everyone that he spoke out against expansion at our own small and perfectly formed Stansted. And hasn t Topsey grown? For those in nostalgia mode, I can add his objections

With all the interesting coverage about Sir John Betjeman, it is fitting to remind everyone that he spoke out against expansion at our own small and perfectly formed Stansted. And hasn't Topsey grown?

For those in nostalgia mode, I can add his objections to Cublington and Nuthampstead etc, far away exotic villages to the west of Walden.

History now or is it? I think he must have visited Walden once as he certainly loved the eastern regions. I know he did visit my own 'native' villages of the three Matchings (near Old Harlow and that other place attached to it).

He wrote of winding lanes and "huge and convoluted pubs at Matching Tye." Now one is a kind of bistro and the other some private house.

The main thing is that he knew that there is beauty and tranquillity all over Essex which belies the fatuous jokes we keep hearing. Characteristically, he found that sense miraculously preserved in a pocket at Harmonsworth near Heathrow in his beloved Middlesex.

But we must not count on such miracles, albeit some 30 years ago - has it survived? The lesson of Heathrow is that it must not happen here and that our heritage would become merely 'habitat pastiche' for unthinking tourists. In fact, it must not happen anywhere else in the UK but the fight is relentless or 'for ever'; by that I don't mean it in the silly modern sense of 'five minutes'?

J Howarth

Debden Road

Saffron Walden

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