Where’s the pride?

Barnstaple High Street.

Barnstaple High Street. - Credit: Archant

I have recently spent a fortnight in Barnstaple, the first time I have been back there for over 50 years. When I left, Barnstaple was a neat and tidy little town – now it is an urban sprawl.

Growing up there, all the houses that did not have front doors directly on to the pavements had either a wall or a fence, but the trend nowadays seems to be hedges.

Most of them encroach on to the pavements, making it impossible to walk two abreast, and most contain brambles which come out even further. We stayed in the Newport area, and wherever we went there were Tesco trolleys. Is there a competition to see how far from the store they can be taken, and if possible dump them in water?

Although I am 80 years old and my wife nearly, we are both keen walkers and we set out to see as much of Barnstaple as possible now that it has increased in size.

We crossed the River Taw over three bridges – the old railway bridge, the Longbridge and the new downstream bridge.

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What we saw surprised us. By the Longbridge there is an eyesore which was once the site of Shapland and Petters, Barnstaple’s biggest employers in my youth, and coming off the new bridge and walking up to Rolle Quay was an equally neglected area behind the rugby ground.

The traffic systems introduced are a nightmare. Newport was the main exit from the town to both Exeter and Taunton, now it has been transformed into a slalom track, and Taw Vale and the Strand into no-go areas. I can also remember the High Street being two-way traffic.

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Living in a small village where everyone takes a pride in their property, I would not like to return to Barnstaple as the standards have dropped so much. The only thing on the plus side is the bus service, and how polite and courteous all the drivers are.

K Draper



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