Avebury Manor – history and yet more history


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2 comments on “Avebury Manor – history and yet more history”

  1. Re The Ken King era at the Manor, the article refers to many of the villagers being against his theme park idea, however, local research at both Avebury and Avebury Trusloe has discovered that a lot more of the villagers approved of his plans. Jobs had been created which are always welcome in country villages and the disapproval came from mostly from people who were known locally as ‘blow-ins’, they had not grown up in the village, had no roots there and again in the words of many true villagers “had come to Avebury to die”. They had no requirements for employment.
    Ken King had many faults but he certainly involved the true villagers in his venture, unlike the National Trust. As Avebury already attracts 250,000 visitors a year, extra visitors to the proposed theme park would not have been such a problem and the article overlooks the fact that access to the park would have been through another entrance on the Swindon road side of the village, which would have avoided the High Street altogether.
    If the National Trust was able now to increase visitor numbers to 350,000 a year, I doubt if anything would be said and the Trust would be delighted.
    Mr King’s face didn’t fit in with the local gentry blow-ins and that helped to seal the fate of the theme, along with some of his other antics.

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    • Thank you for your comment. I lived locally for 12 years, and since I was managing the Science Museum, Wroughton, at the time of this incident, I can assure you that although I might have been a ‘blow in’, I was a rural one and had NOT come there to die but to work! Coming to the area from a small Derbyshire village (my first school had 40 pupils) I can truthfully say that I fully understood village life. Difficult though it is to tolerate poor employment prospects for those concerned, all factors regarding the impact on the World Heritage Site had to be taken into consideration. Despite the fact that the proposed entrance to Mr King’s site would have been off the road north to Swindon (somewhere between the Red Bull and the garage on the opposite side of the road, I think), the effect of a quarter of a million extra visitors would have been disasterous, given that all roads into and out of the village are 22′ wide. This is not just my own point of view; the collective view of the Thamesdown and District Tourism Association, the representative body charged with promoting tourism for the area (and on which I was serving at the time) was that the effect would have been unacceptable. ALL local services (electricity supply, water, sewerage and waste water disposal and rubbish collection to name but a few) would have been completely overwhelmed. Access to the village (and the people living there!) especially in summer, by both Fire and Ambulance Services in the event of a medical or other emergency would have been degraded to a potentially dangerous extent. As well, in order to prevent erosion and other damage, the Avebury megaliths would have to have been fenced off, as at Stonehenge, and it would have been difficult to prevent damage to the rest of the local landscape (people climbing the fenced off – and very fragile environment – of Silbury Hill, and potential damage to Kennet Long Barrow). I’m sorry for Mr King’s second bankruptcy, but I think it highly likely that his plan would have failed at the local government Planning Committee stage, and that the Department of the Environment in London would have ‘called it in’, anyway. Just before I left, I was given to understand that there were petitioners ready to take Mr King to the High Court. I well understand rural unemployment (some members of my own family in Derbyshire had only part-time work on local farms) but Mr King was NOT the solution!

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