NOW an octogenarian, I have spent my long and happy life entirely in Thornbury or its surrounds.

It saddens me very much to witness the closure of the High Street (whether partial or complete) and I feel sure that I am not alone in this.

I have always felt privileged to have been born into such an attractive environment - beautiful rural countryside set beside the River Severn surrounding an historical and an attractive market town with medieval origins. Historically, Thornbury was known as ‘The Queen of the Vale’.

The main Bristol to Gloucester road passed through the attractive High Street (hence so many large inns).

Local farmers transported their produce to sell in and around the covered Market Place in the centre of the High Street on a regular basis.

Retailers built up their businesses in this thriving little town and have continued to do so until very recently.

The Covid epidemic has been used as an excuse to sacrifice all this attractive, historical character.

Can this be justified and what is the real truth behind such puzzling plans?

Perhaps you would find my thoughts could possibly throw some light on the matter:

In the 1970s, at a meeting of the local council (Thornbury Rural District Council) in their offices at Stokefield House in Castle Street, Thornbury, a speaker surprised the gathering by announcing that, in the future, Thornbury would become the centre of a Severnside city of a million people!

One can only imagine the reaction of the audience.

Some even thought it was a joke!

The speaker continued by explaining that the Severnside area would be developed into a distribution warehouse centre, extending from Portbury (beyond Avonmouth) to Sharpness.

Apparently, it would become a Euro Port, extending along the banks of the River Severn. (These plans have probably changed with the recent Brexit decision.)

The site of Oldbury Power Station would be used to accommodate an updated replacement and is due to start being built on completion of Hinkley C station.

(If you watched the recent TV programme about Hinkley ‘C’ you will realise what a gigantic operation that is!)

Such developments would obviously require housing provision on a massive scale, which we are already witnessing as acres of our lovely countryside become buried beneath bricks, concrete and tarmac!!

Bristol already extends to Almondsbury.

Gloucester extends ever nearer from the north, with new developments already completed, currently under construction, or planned and already approved.

Apparently Cheltenham and Gloucester have almost become joined, some saying that Tewkesbury is similarly situated.

Interestingly, on Radio Gloucestershire only a few weeks ago it was announced that several billion pounds are to be spent widening and reconstructing the A46 trunk road (Midlands to Bath via Stroud). This is to be developed as a main arterial road, bringing traffic to the south west (extending to Cornwall).

Considered alongside the other facts, this indicates that such a road would free up the motorway for the heavy goods vehicles servicing the Severnside warehouse centre. No doubt we shall soon be seeing wide roads being cut across our neighbouring countryside to connect to the M5.

In fact, there were stories of such developments linking the Falfield motorway junction 14 to the said Severnside site, however, the matter has gone quiet for the time being.

There is no doubt that this is all going to become reality, with the recent completion of the Amazon distribution warehouse in the Easter Compton area.

Apparently, it is the largest warehouse that Amazon has built and is the size of eight football pitches!

So, are those facts provided 50 years ago, what we are witnessing now? It seems to be a strong possibility!

How will this affect Thornbury High Street?

The industrial site on the banks of the Severn will need a huge amount of space and given the proximity of the town to the riverbank (half a dozen fields through The Pithay and one is almost there) I think the High Street could be running alongside the edge of this development.

That is possibly why the new building developments are situated in the areas of Buckover, Grovesend, Sibland, Hackett, Crossways, Milbury Heath and Whitfield.

In fact, I recall reading quite recently about a possible plan to construct a ‘High Street’ on the old section of the A38 going from the White Horse at Buckover to the old Eastwood Park Lodge.

There are even more relevant facts I have gathered over the years, but this will suffice for now, I think!

As the saying goes, “You ain’t seen nothing yet!”

Please forgive the grammar – and YES! – I did attend Thornbury Grammar School for seven years and enjoyed every minute of it!

And that’s another matter upsetting me; how can they demolish that building – one of the best schools in Gloucestershire I believe.

Thornbury is being ripped apart for no good reason it seems.

In conclusion, my greatest concern is an environmental one. Thornbury is situated in a natural ‘basin’ almost at sea level.

What a wonderful breeding ground for pollution, germs and other such unwanted things.

Has due consideration been given to this?

A ‘Thornbury old un’

Name and address supplied