Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Worst on the High Street

I was rather intrigued with the selection of graphic to depict a typical High Street on this news report on the yahoo news feed…

Do you see any cars? Or even the facility to park a car outside the very shop, even the worst one, that you wish to visit to make a financial transaction to support our ailing GDP? Or perhaps 15 minutes free parking as advocated by Paul Ziles of Mayfair Stationers in our own High Street?

No! Quite. The High Street in the early 20th Century thrived because there were no cars and the modern High Street is no different. It’s a Shopping Mall. And the sooner our high street traders realise this and stop pandering to the car the sooner our High Streets can regenerate.

You’ll have to Google to find who the “worst” is but suffice to say they are not present on our High Street!


  1. Well not literally on our (Barkingside) High Street, but they are in our Ilford Exchange and now have the Post Office in an obscure corner.

  2. If only it were as simple as stopping high street traders pandering to the car. Society has changed dramatically since the 30s and 40s when many of our high streets were built. A man could support a wife and children on his wage. Most women didn't go out to work. They were housewives. There were few cars, few fridges, no freezers. You kept your meat, butter and cheese - what little you could buy with your rationing coupons after WW II - in a kitchen closet equipped with an air brick and fly screen. So shopping was a daily chore and done on foot by housewives with time on their hands. They couldn't fill their shopping bags if they tried.

    The pace of life was slow. The baker, milkman and coalman still made deliveries by horse and cart. Fullwell Avenue was so quiet that my friends and I used to hold chunks of cardboard as sails on our roller skates and fly down the middle of the road without fear of being hit by a vehicle. Not today!

    Most women go out to work and don't have time to spend hours shopping. They do a weekly shop to fill the fridge and need a car to carry all the groceries they buy. And they need to park it close to where they buy those groceries, which means a supermarket car park. Now they can also use their computers to buy online and have deliveries made.

    You can't turn the clock back. Banning cars in the high streets won't increase foot traffic. The shoppers will go elsewhere where they can park their cars and do a swift weekly shop.

    The two groups that still use high streets are those without cars: schoolkids and pensioners. The kids need burger joints or newsagents for a bag of chips or a chocolate bar on their way home. Half the pensioners buzz around on mobility scooters and seem determined to drive pedestrians off the pavements!

    I still see older men walking back from the local high street with a newspaper tucked under an arm; but that's outdated. It's yesterday's news. Visit the BBC website to find out what happened an hour or two ago.

    Don't ask me what the answer is, but at least I can see the complexity of the problem.

  3. think the demise slow it may be is down to the type of shops that we are seeing opening in barkingside high tends to put people off going there.