|History Burns Again|
|Monday 28/07/2008 19:12|
The simple truth is we've lost another key piece of our heritage, and Weston has suffered a bigger blow. The town is in a kind of binary state just now, flip-flopping between family seaside holiday destination and a town built around stag- and hen-night debauchery. This fire may just have tipped the balance. Not today of course, as trainloads of day-trippers arrived to watch the fire or it's smoky aftermath. Roads closed and traffic chaos as rubberneckers attempted to get a glimpse. Was the west tower still standing? Isn't that where the deep fat fryers were? Are they saying that's what started it? A colleague pointed out that the tide would soon be washing away any evidence that had fallen through the superstructure. We decided not go and look today, it didn't seem right.
But there are key differences to Highbridge's situation. Within hours the owners of the site had said that despite this monumental setback, they would rebuild the pier. Local councillors were offering 'moral support' straight away (no cash, naturally) and people seemed to be getting behind the unlucky owners and supporting their local heritage. Suddenly it seemed OK to express a sense of loss, of childhood memories burned. Having lived in Weston for a few less than happy years, I was amazed at this sudden outburst of community spirit, in what has been a centre-less, disjointed and divided town for years.
Perhaps we could never have excited the local population here about a pub, particularly one which was declining in popularity and had seen better days in many senses. However, our tiny group of supporters remain committed to finding out what happened, and more importantly to doing all we can to secure a future for the Highbridge Hotel. We simply can't afford to lose any more of our heritage, our links with a quite recent past which seems impossibly distant to those who live in the town in 2008. As the people of Weston will discover tomorrow and beyond, once the strange gut-twisting thrill and disbelief of seeing flames leaping from a building has gone, a strange sense of loss sets in.