If we want new, Old has to give way – What price for progress?

Much has been said about the new rail line, HS2. It is a controversial project with many people in support and many against. So I ask – What price for progress?

For me, I don’t think it is needed. A new station will eventually be built just a few miles away from my abode, but it will be of little benefit to myself. Partly because the reduction in time onboard the train will be eaten up by the increased journey time at both ends. However, that is my personal view for what it is worth and not actually related to the blog!

We need to accept that some of the project at least will be built. My musings on here today are more about the cost of the project. 

When I say cost, I do not refer to money (it is blatantly obvious that no one knows how much it will cost). I refer to the other costs. The landscape, the noise and most of all, the loss of two great pubs (1 is reported as being a mistake!). 

We only have so much space in our cities, so whenever we want something new, something old usually has to give way. 

For HS2, much has been demolished.

In Birmingham, a pub called the Eagle and Tun has been demolished to make way for the new Curzon street station.

Whilst you woulnever call this an upmarket pub, it had a rich heritage.

Inside the Eagle and TunIt first welcomed drinkers during the reign of Queen Victoria and is famous for appearing on the cover of UB40’s ‘Best of’ album as well as being used in the video for the track Red Red Wine.

In august of 2019, Ed Sheeran also shot a music video in the pub.

The pub itself had real age and character about it. It closed in 2008 but was rescued by the last landlord and restored using his own money.

Red brick architecture with large windows outside. Inside there were original glazed tiles on the walls, traditional bench seating and a large bar.

Above the bar on shelves were dusty musical instruments.

I was lucky enough to visit the Eagle on Tun shortly before it closed its doors for good in early January 2020. Even in its death knell, the beer was well kept.

Bree Louise

At the other end of the line, the Bree Louise near Euston station was forced to close. The pub, named after the owners daughter who died at the age of 12, was a multi award winning boozer.

A firm favourite amongst locals and known as Euston’s best kept secret known for its great ale, lack of football, no fruit machines and no music. It was a real gem for real ale drinkers and craft lovers alike. It was a real London pub.

Whilst many pubs are closing, it is notable that such historic pubs serving great beer and with a rich history are often thriving.

There will be without doubt other business and architecture casualties in the building of this new rail line.

I think it is fair to say, that the arguments and the business case for such a rail line are dubious at best. The costs in financial terms are incredible and likely to rise. The benefits only for a few in order to shave a few minutes from their journey.

The real cost

The cost however to the country’s landscape, heritage and architecture is immense.

I am not certain why we feel the need to flatten such places and put up in their place glass monstrosities.

To elaborate further on the destruction and loss, my research tells me the following is a list of the countries losses –

  • 900 Homes
  • 1,000 businesses
  • 27 Community facilities
  • 60 Irreplaceable ancient woodlands
  • Estimated 2,380 jobs lost permanently (claimed that 2,340 will be created)

Additionally, HS2 state that

  • 58 million tons of landfill waste will be created
  • 9 rivers will need to be diverted

Will we have anything for visitors to see?

It makes me wonder what the future holds for the country. People travel from a-far to experience our heritage and culture. Let’s hope we can keep some for them to see.

So, What price for progress?


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