Barges might be the answer

Two issues at once, but one Lewes.

The artist and traveller community in the North Street community are struggling against Santon’s redevelopment of the area.

The North Street Quarter is a flood plain. Nobody should be redeveloping it. It stands as an accident waiting to happen (Lewes has been flooded 40 times in the past 1,000 years). But for the creative, mini-bus folk? Barges. Barges moored immediately along the river nestling the same quarter. As in the lines that bob on the Regents Canal in London, gates preventing unwelcome night time visitors. And when the 41st time arrives these vessels rise with global warming but keeping a community snug, dry, happy and together.

The second area concerns traffic. Traffic that climb the hills of Lewes (one interpretation of the 8th century origin of the word is “slopes and hills”). They are an obstacle to pedestrians, there is nowhere to park and to just add the finishing touch they slowly poison all of us. And during the wait they certainly leave an ingrained smudge on paintwork.

What could replace them? Cable cars. A few weeks back I had cause (suicidal cause) to travel to San Francisco. From leaving our Lewes front door to entering our Oakland one (next door to San Francisco) it took 22 hours with the centre piece being a continuous 10 hour flight and an eight hour time difference. Enough about that. But there up the hills that if not for the nonsense invasion of the 1849 gold rush the city would never have been built at all. Also it played a riveting backdrop to Steve McQueen’s 1968 car chase. But I am drifting again. Cable cars, electrically powered by overhead cables, pedestrian friendly (if not for the car attendants), and rattle up all sorts of inclines that take the Lewes out of Lewes.

Thanks for travelling with me both by water and an uphill Brighton seafront, railway train.

Colin Frost-Herbert