Tuesday 21 April 2009

Farewell, Great Gates Of Frinton….

For the people of Frinton, their Victorian railway gates were a proud symbol of their heritage and old-fashioned values.

The seaside resort has always clung tenaciously to its past and it was not until 2000 that the first pub was allowed to open for business.

But - in an operation carried out in the 2am darkness - Network Rail chiefs have removed the crossing gates to replace them with their modern equivalents.
Boooo……! Another blow for conformity and ‘sameness’.

It seems they were unsuccessful in gaining English Heritage listing for their gates, so allowing Network Rail’s actions. Which, given some of the eyesores gaining listed status, beggars belief….
Terry Allen, the town's mayor, said: 'Paris has its Eiffel Tower, London has Tower Bridge and in Frinton we have the gates. Everyone seems to want to change us.

'It is gradual erosion, once you let things slip we will become just like any other resort and we don't want that.'
But we can’t have people deciding for themselves what kind of railway gates they want!

Pretty soon, they’ll start to think they can decide on how (and by whom) they are represented in local councils and Parliament, rather than accepting whoever the party puts in place, and that would never do…

So individualism is stamped on once again.
A spokesman for Network Rail said: 'We appreciate the importance of the level crossing gates to the people of Frinton. We'll be looking to donate the old gates to be preserved by the local community.'
That’s a nice gesture, but utterly pointless. They don’t want the gates as a pretty piece of sculpture for the village green.

They wanted them as working objects on the level crossing where they belonged.


Macheath said...

Well said!

Perhaps the missing clue lies in Network Rail's contribution to the costs of rebuilding the nearby road junction; money, after all, greases a lot of wheels.

It should, perhaps, be added that the objections raised by residents were not simply reactionary nimbyism as portrayed in the press, but a desire to keep a manned crossing in an area with many elderly residents and two schools.

The gates were not only a proud symbol of the town's heritage; when open, they stood between pedestrians and the roadway, protecting them from traffic. The crossing attendant was always on hand to deal with any emergency (and that emergencies DO arise on level crossings is surely beyond dispute).

It was the prospect of this system being replaced by automatic barriers controlled from an office 16 miles away that brought many of the normally law-abiding residents of Frinton out onto the streets to protest.

And for their pains, they are branded 'Little Englanders' by the press and offered the final insult; the pensioned-off gates turned into a useless ornament to remind us all of what they have lost.

To paraphrase Bill Bryson, 'It's my country, and they're taking it away from me bit by bit'.

Stan said...

You can't stand in the way of progress - even if it leaves things worse than they were before. Progress is the new god - worship it or be excluded from society.

JuliaM said...

"It should, perhaps, be added that the objections raised by residents were not simply reactionary nimbyism as portrayed in the press..."

Indeed. One of the Frintonites (Frintonians..?) got quite a rough ride on the 'Jeremy Vine' show on Radio 2 yesterday.

Few callers thought he had a point, and most were quite gleeful at the prospect of Frinton being dragged kicking and screaming into 'the modern age'...

"Progress is the new god..."

Yup. Even when it's merely 'progress'....

Umbongo said...


This isn't something as boring and redolent of 1997 New Labour as "progress". On the contrary, it's "change you can believe in".

There that makes it all better doesn't it?

JuliaM said...

Now, that has the ring of familiarity... ;)