Whist in town today I had reason to visit the friendly folk at Photo Finish in Parsons Street. One cannot help but notice the amazing speed at how the workmen have transformed Parsons Street. There has been activity it seems, every day since the project began to turn this historic part of town into a (part-) pedestrianised area.
I asked one of the workmen whether they'd had much feedback about their work. He said lots of people had stopped to say 'well done'. I do think the area looks very neat and clean and the job has been completed extremely well. It's a shame to become cynical though and expect public-related jobs to last forever and become so botched up you wished they were never started.
However, I notice Rob Kinchin-Smith's comments on the Banbury Civic Society website that historically, brick herringbone patterend paving just wasn't "the done thing" in Banbury. Bill Bryson, English Heritage Commissioner and champion of the Save Our Streets campaign, said: “... In particular, we want to encourage highways engineers to pay attention to what makes each region special, its landscape, its use of local building materials and its traditional detailing."
Now I'm wondering whether the street has been improved to its best potential. It seems a variety of other materials such as rectangular York stone paving and granite chippings were used as road surfaces in the past. So does the new kerbless red brick paving really fit in with the beautiful buildings straddling it? Will it be a safe place to walk in the evenings when cars will be able to drive up, but not 'see' any pavement?
Still, to be admired is the way those men have worked so hard (apparantly one gentleman has worked non-stop for 7 weeks without a day off). Lets hope for all the businesses affected by the changes, that more of us will take time to wander up and down Banbury's Lanes, including Parsons Street, visiting the wide variety of independant shops.