Notes on walk, Bury St.Edmunds 28 December 2012: Symonds Road, Shakers Lane, Hollow Road, Compiegne Way

Moreton Hall: once a stately home owned by a Cambridge history professor, now a private school. Day and boarding, ‘preparatory and pre-preparatory’. Pre-preparatory?

According To Locals (1) From 1940s to 1960s the whole area around Moreton Hall, previously farmland, was a military airfield abandoned after the war. Children played unsupervised among the munitions.

According To Locals (2) In the 1950s Ford wanted to build a car plant on the site. The council refused, said high wages would damage other local industries. Moreton Hall, almost-Dagenham, then became a residential development.

According To Statisticians A few years ago a study found the Moreton Hall estate to have the longest average life-expectancy of any area in the UK. Girls born on Moreton Hall could live to 119

Leave Symonds Road at right angle bend – past the layby where 6 years ago I parked every morning for a 3 week temporary agency admin job at a bank in the town centre - into Shakers Lane (no vehicular access)

No evidence of Shaker worship, architecture or furniture in Shakers Lane; only the background drumming of traffic on the concrete runway of the bypass gouged into the landscape 100 metres away.

Continue straight ahead, past left turn leading to footbridge over dual carriageway towards the Abbey Gardens / town centre. Ignore the call of the A14 container lorry-retail park continuum, in many ways the successor to the Abbey itself; a once all-powerful institution ransacked by rioting townspeople and dismantled for scrap.

Further down Shakers Lane: sequestered elderly care home; SCOPE ‘Inclusion’ Unit; one or two houses; B&B.

not considered to be of special interest

End of Shakers Lane, reformatted junction with Hollow Road and Barton Road. A mini-roundabout is overlooked by a distinctive relic of a 14th century window, moved from a hospital in another part of the town to its current location in the late 1700s, forming part of another hospital building which later became a private house. For some time, seemingly since at least 1900, it has stood alone, its second home also a ruin.

North up Hollow Road, towards the sugar factory. By bridge over railway line: ‘Adult Learning Centre’ recently renamed ‘Community Hub’. Outline of old lettering still visible on brickwork behind new sign. Biopolitical palimpsest.

The metallic mass of the sugar factory, its silos sighing, chimneys puffing out white smoke. An actual real-life factory, not a CGI heritage simulation. Have to resist the urge to walk up to the barrier and ask the security guard if I might wander in and have a look around.

Occasional lumps of sugar beet, thrown off by over-enthusiastic delivery lorries, lie like dead seed pods on the pavement outside the houses opposite the factory. Having started their lives in a remote field somewhere on the planet’s surface, at every moment being guided by nature and human intervention toward their final transcendent crystallisation, these poor specimens got to within a calorie of fulfilment only to end up, by the whim of the sucrose Gods, stranded here on the hard shoulder outside the gates of Silver Spoon. Imagine residents tired of tripping over these unwanted gifts every day upon their arrival home, picking up the dirty beets and hurling the damned things back at the trucks as they rumble past.

1936: “The British Sugar Corporation was created by the Sugar Industry (Reorganisation) Act to manage the entire UK sugar beet crop”

“£650,000 fines following sugar factory death” (2005)

Just past the factory, the pavement dissolves into generic automotive (de)territory. All that is solid melts into non-place signage. Peripheral zone of industrial units and DIY outlets. Hot tubs, ‘Mole Country Stores’.

A143 roundabout at optimistically named ‘Compiegne Way’ - concealed service road, electricity substation, fenced-off factory land, discarded bottles

As glimpsed from a car window: pedestrian standing on grass verge, folding a 1980s map of Bury St.Edmunds, in fading light.

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