Enlisted To Help Save Granchester Meadows

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Real Pink in the Inside
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Enlisted To Help Save Granchester Meadows

Post by Real Pink in the Inside »

Rock star whose lyrics defined a landscape enlisted to help save meadows

Campaigners fear homes will ruin Grantchester site

John Ezard
Monday June 30, 2003
The Guardian

Jeffrey Archer is being detained by her majesty, and his predecessor at the Old Vicarage, Grantchester, the poet Rupert Brooke, is old hat. So Cambridge campaigners turned yesterday to a rock star to help them save Grantchester Meadows.

The meadows, part of a world heritage site and among Europe's most cherished vistas, are feared to be under threat by a scheme to build 1,000 houses on a mile-long strip of land on their edge.

The houses are proposed for a 60-acre green belt site next to a prime stretch of the meadows' 250 acres of riverside grassland. The project shocked lovers of the area when it was suddenly introduced into oral evidence at a hearing by government inspectors. They say the houses would mar the views and tranquillity for thousands of walkers, campers, punters, fishermen and tourists in the rural heartland near Grantchester village.

"How sad," the rock star Roger Waters, ex-Pink Floyd bass player and creator of The Wall, said yesterday when told by the Guardian of the scheme.

Waters' 1970s song lyric, Grantchester Meadows, is nowadays as celebrated an anthem to the meadows as Brooke's pre-first world war poem The Old Vicarage, Grantchester. Waters said: "I am very happy to help if the campaigners feel that I can."

Planners around Cambridge are under pressure from the deputy prime minister, John Prescott, to find land rapidly for 15,000 new houses, if necessary by sacrificing green belt restrictions. Local authorities are discussing the project, which is considered so sensitive that documents normally call it "land west of Trumpington Road" without referring to the meadows or to Grantchester.

Decisions are expected to emerge later this year, with Mr Prescott's advisers likely to have the final say. The issue has divided opinion, with Cambridge's Labour MP, Anne Campbell, in favour of "looking at" the project and Andrew Lansley, Conservative MP for south Cambridgeshire, against.

Despite sparse publicity so far, more than 3,000 residents have signed a petition. One star signatory is the eminent physicist and popular scientific author Stephen Hawking.

The meadows have been so little disrupted by the centuries that their soil still has dips and bumps left by medieval strip farming. Grantchester is a Roman settlement; its name means "camp beside the Granta", the river Cam's old name.

The fields stretch three miles south from the edge of Cambridge University to form the city's "green lung". They are about a mile wide, though some of their views range west across nearly seven miles of open countryside. Being allowed to camp, ramble or fish there without adult supervision is a rite of passage for thousands of local children - as is courtship among the flowering long grasses for adults inside and outside the university.

Rupert Brooke's lines, written in Berlin in 1912 while homesick -

Stands the church clock at ten-to-three

And is there honey still for tea?

- epitomised the area for decades. The only honey made there now comes from bees gorged on oil seed rape.

The honey currently served in the Orchard tea gardens, in homage to Brooke, is brought in in tiny jars from Wilkins of Tiptree, Essex.

In his 1998 poems Birthday Letters, Ted Hughes described his wife Sylvia Plath, who later committed suicide, declaiming verse by Geoffrey Chaucer while perched on a stile:

Your voice went over the fields towards Grantchester.

It must have sounded lost. But the cows

Watched, then approached: they appreciated Chaucer.

But Roger Waters' lyric - written from nostalgia in a London bedsit in 1969 after he grew up in Cambridge - is now by far the best known. It has references on more than 1,000 websites, compared with 330 for Brooke's poem.

Yesterday Waters, 59, now a millionaire, said: "I spent many, many happy hours fishing for roach with a bamboo rod and a piece of bread in that bit of the river Cam. I have powerful memories of the warmth of summer mud oozing up between my toes. That time turned out to be creatively important for me - my work is coloured to a certain extent by the sound of natural history.

"People need to be housed. It's very difficult for young people. Developments in rural areas are, I suppose, inevitable. But I think when beauty of this level is the question, it should not be disturbed."

Earlier, Anne Kent, a Liberal Democrat Cambridgeshire county councillor and a petition organiser, had voiced the hope that Waters might back it. Told what he had said, she said: "It is marvellous that someone like that is prepared to give us support. His lyric sums up exactly what we are trying to preserve".

Ian Steen, a Grantchester parish councillor, said: "In Scotland or Cumbria, these views may be 10 a penny. In Cambridge they are all that we have."

Anne Campbell said she did not question the need to preserve the meadows, but criticised the "slightly hysterical reaction" by the city council, which is conducting an environmental review, and the parish council.

She said: "I have a lot of my constituents who tell me they or their children cannot afford to live in Cambridge. If we say to every bit of land that comes forward 'we can't build there', we are not going to solve the problem."

Grantchester Meadows by Pink Floyd

Icy wind of night, be gone,

This is not your domain.

In the sky a bird was heard to cry.

Misty morning whisperings and gentle stirring sounds

Belied a deathly silence that lay all around.

Hear the lark and harken to the barking of the dog fox gone to ground.

See the splashing of the kingfisher flashing to the water.

And a river of green is sliding unseen beneath the trees,

Laughing as it passes through the endless summer making for the sea.

In the lazy water meadow

I lay me down.

All around me,

Golden sunflakes settle on the ground,

Basking in the sunshine of a bygone afternoon,

Bringing sounds of yesterday into this city room.

Hear the lark and harken to the barking of the dog fox gone to ground.

See the splashing of the kingfisher flashing to the water.

And a river of green is sliding unseen beneath the trees,

Laughing as it passes through the endless summer making for the sea.

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/arts/news/sto ... 27,00.html
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Keith Jordan
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Post by Keith Jordan »

A sad tale indeed. I just read about that on another site! :?

I added a news item below with some nice pictures of the area from the link at the bottom of the page.

http://www.neptunepinkfloyd.co.uk/news/?y=03&id=0701
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SomeGhostsStepOut
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Post by SomeGhostsStepOut »

Wow...
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Post by mosespa »

Wow...are those tables, chairs and tents natural formations?
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Post by Keith Jordan »

mosespa wrote:Wow...are those tables, chairs and tents natural formations?
Amazing aren't they?!?! Only in a whimsical english meadow! :lol:
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Post by simpledumbpilot »

My question is who are the houses for? Only Waters gives any hint (''young people''???) and none of the statements (at least in the post at the top of this page) say. Will these actually be to help solve our massive homeless problem in the UK? In which case Gilmour could even get involved and could actually see Waters and Gilmour involved in the same project! Or is it yet another huge terrace for immigrants? Please dont get me wrong, Im not a racist, I appreciate that it is tough for some people in other countries but I think its time that someone else chipped in. We have so many of our own problems in this country that arent being addressed properly as we're always sorting every other bugg*rs problems out. Sorry, didnt mean to rant, just curious.
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Post by Keith Jordan »

If they are being plonked next to a beaufuful meadow in cambridge then they are not cheap houses for the poor. They would be nice middle class houses I would imagine.
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Post by Pugs on the Wing »

Keith Jordan wrote:If they are being plonked next to a beaufuful meadow in cambridge then they are not cheap houses for the poor. They would be nice middle class houses I would imagine.
Aaah, you just stole my very words. Not that I know what it's like in England, but here in the states, if one were to develop in an idyllic spot like that, it would be one of those gated communities with MacMansions.
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Post by quicksilver »

Although I normally support development, there are some settings that should remain pristine and never developed; and I believe this is one of them. Is vacant land so scarce in that area that an alternate site cannot be found? People need a place to go and relax etc; to clear the mind and enjoy the beauty of God's green earth. This area has touched thousands of people in different ways. What a great place for the band to get together for a concert to support the opposition of this development.
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Post by Spirit Catcher »

A very pretty place :) ...Man won't be satisfied until nature is all covered
with concrete :? :cry:
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Post by princessDungan74D »

hmm...thats really sad. I have never been there but still.
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Post by David Smith »

I say we paln a NPF trip there where as many of us as possible turn up in Grantchester Meadow, meet Roger if he's protesting there and then hug some trees.

Ok so that just wouldn't happen, but it's the sort of place my brother would go to in order to protest so i might go for a quick journey with him and some hippies before it gets taken down.