We human beings are a funny lot. Believe it or not there are plenty of people out there who wouldn’t dream of curling up in front of an episode of Thunderbirds or Captain Scarlet writes Phil Gillam.
And there are others too who would regard a warming supper of Marmite toast and a mug of hot milk with something less than enthusiasm.
Still. You can’t win ’em all.
By the same token, my column a fortnight ago about Shrewsbury’s old bus depot in Ditherington seemed to split opinion right down the middle.
Before I go any further, let me say right now that I was actually playing devil’s advocate in suggesting that this purely utilitarian 1920s structure should be saved from a date with the bulldozers and perhaps cherished as an integral part of Shrewsbury’s heritage.
Regular readers will know only too well that I am capable of getting very passionate about our old buildings.
I’m fascinated by history and believe it vitally important to preserve as much as we can, especially in a beautiful and historic town like ours.
But a dirty old bus garage?
Even I accept that sometimes the old has to make way for the new.
You simply cannot keep EVERY old building. If we did, our towns and cities would never move forward.
Certain criteria has to be applied.
Is it genuinely of historic value? Would losing it damage the beauty and/or integrity of an area?
I do think there is a world of difference between a bus depot and, for instance, a fine mansion such as Besford House in Belle Vue (about which I have written much, and the future of which looks a great deal more secure now than it did a few weeks ago).
If the bus garage could have been somehow incorporated into a tasteful redevelopment of the Ditherington area, then marvellous.
But I am willing to accept this was never going to be the case, and this time it was surely a situation where we might just have to shed a tear and move on.
But a whole range of comments left on the Shrewsbury Matters blog on the Shropshire Star website pointed to plenty of other points of view.
One reader had this to say: “The old railway buildings up Coton Hill have been converted into lovely houses and flats, the same could happen here given a good architect and sympathetic planning department.
“And just as the old railway buildings are part of the history of the town, so is the bus depot part of Ditherington’s architectural heritage.”
Another reader said: “The powers that be appear more keen to raze than respect. The frontage of the bus depot is good and could certainly be used as an interesting entrance to the development in much the same way as the former AutoTyres building in Frankwell has been tied into the otherwise monstrous Theatre Severn.”
A reader who goes by the name of Tubleton wrote: “I would prefer to see the old bus depot kept as part of the overall redevelopment as I think it has something to offer.
“With the doors replaced by full length glazing and a new roof it could look impressive. The space could provide any number of uses with the skill and imagination of people much more talented than me. However, I could definitely see it taking on a role of Shrewsbury Arts Centre, for example, as I would imagine it would lend itself perfectly as a gallery-style exhibition space.”
John Reece from Australia had this to say: “How about a Midland Red museum? Spent a few years there in the ‘60s during flower power time, sad to read about the building going, but then many other things do too. Happy memories of happy days. Regards to other drivers and clippies who see this.”
Another comment was left by Midland Fred: “What a lovely blog, a great pity there were no old Midland Red photos to go with it. . . I recall as far back as 1948 Midland Red buses lined up in the square – S1 Ragleth Gardens, S8 Kennedy Road, S13 Copthorne, cemetery, Weeping Cross, Harlescott – Oh those where the days. So farewell Ditherington bus depot, in my view you are twice the building behind you.”
Meanwhile, another (perhaps less sentimental) reader had this to say: “I’m glad it’s going, it’s an eyesore and clogs up the roads here. Will be much better as much needed affordable housing.”
So there you go. You can’t please all the people all the time. And in the end, all this chatter was purely academic anyway, as, within days of my article appearing, the old bus depot was demolished.
Dear old Reg Varney (and countless real-life bus drivers) will no doubt be turning in their graves.
But as I say – Time to move on.