Blog Devon Historic Photos

Making Way For Asda 2005

It is perhaps surprising how much demolition is required and how many road changes are needed just to build a supermarket. And did we really need it?

2005 | Newton Abbot, Devon

Let’s knock down Newton Abbot!

We must have had a town planner from ‘up country’ at some point in our post-war history who decided they did not like Newton Abbot very much. That person, possibly from somewhere like Birmingham, sought to demolish as much of it as possible, perhaps hoping that the locals wouldn’t notice (after all, we are all a bit slow and sleepy down here) or put up much of a fight (slow and sleepy – and we drink too much cider).

Our Planner seems to have had a fairly consistent plan: instead of making Newton Abbot look better, let’s turn it into a museum where people can come from far and wide to witness the very worst examples of post-war architecture. I can almost smell the posters inviting people to come to Newton Abbot to see how drab their town used to look, and aren’t they glad their town no longer looks like this! To be fair, there are of course people who actually like drab, so apologies to you, I do not mean to offend.

I was quite shocked when I saw how hideous the new Market Walk is: shoddily built pastel coloured ticky-tack cubes with a vaguely 70’s retro feel. They already looked hopelessly outdated the day they were opened – more like a film set for a low budget psychedelic comedy-thriller. The really house-of-horrors scary thing is, these ticky-tack cubes are actually better than what was there before! To this day I cannot figure out why they did not demolish the whole of the market walk in all of it’s hideous 70’s entirety and create something akin to the beautiful market square that existed previously, complete with its delightful London Plane trees and wooden kiosks.

Anyway, I digress. First we had the demolition of the Penn Inn lido and park to make way for a flyover that would take 40 years to build. Then there was the demolition of a beautiful and expansive market square to make way for a supermarket and the ‘Market Walk’. Then came the demolition of our bus station to be replaced by a phenomenally ugly government office block. And now we have this – more demolition to make way for another supermarket!

And before you say anything the answer is yes: Newton Abbot has many examples of fine architecture that I shall show off in another photo journal entry. Let’s hope our rampant retro-planner does not get his or her ball and chain out for a while yet…

Incidentally, the houses you can seen boarded up in Clarendon Road were due to be demolished but were reprieved at the last minute. Otherwise this was an extensive site of destruction.

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