ceud míle fáilte

a hundred thousand welcomes

Saturday, 7 June 2008

There goes my chidlhood...

I'm upset.

By the next time I'm able to get 'home' home (my heart rests in Scotland...) my village shall be changed beyond recognition. Oh, I know, it's all about letting go and moving on etc, but I tear-up every time I think about it, which is often...

© Jim Bain

This little village is where I spent the first 19 years of my life, before going off to college. It is where my mother was born, where my grandparents lived and we can trace our family back generations to this small area. According to a local history book* it appears on record for the first time in 1144 and lies between medieval roads leading to an important religious town 3 miles away. It nestles between 2 hills and its name means 'The Valley of The Kinness' (which is a small burn that meanders its pretty way out to the North Sea a couple of miles away.)

But, yes, it's fair to say that there has been some development over the years: outlying fields having the odd house built upon them, old farms being turned into steadings, the biggest of which was to the north-west of the village around 20 years ago, with the addition of a small council estate. But the village has basically remained in it's very old formation for centuries, with the old common grazing ground in the middle: once the place to keep your sheep. You can see it in the photo - the massive patch of green to the top-right... In the past 200 years or so (since the need for having your own sheep nearby was no longer relevant, I presume) the field has been used for growing crops.

Ah, the memories - fields of barley to run through... (on the tractor tracks - we was good little people!); the hay bales to make fortresses out of in Autumn; the tall Summer grasses to make little palaces out of when it was a fallow year; the Bonfire Night festivities which my LS and I would watch from our Gran's living room window opposite the field, oohing and aahing at the fireworks
when we were wee... This field is the heart (and soul, if you'll allow) of the village.

3 Years ago a housing developer approached the owner of the field in regards to buying it to build 28 houses, a shop and a flat there. There were many things they were proposing to change along with the building works and the village went up in arms. They were thankfully successful in blocking the move and we all breathed a sigh of relief.

Fast forward to April 2008 where there are major changes in the local council - new people in, old people out. Suddenly there are signs on the field telling us - TELLING US - that there will be works beginning in the early Summer 2008 on a new housing scheme on the field. 30 houses. ('affordable housing', so the sign informs us - how generous of them...)

Of course, it is inevitable. It is prime real estate. The owner is a greedy old bastard who is flagrantly going against his father's wishes in selling the field in the first place. (The family have been farmers here for generations.) But to shove 30 houses into a not-enormous village commons, a commons which is surrounded by ancient cottages and huge gardens, seems avaricious beyond belief.

It will affect a huge proportion of the village, considering that most of it was built up around the commons in the first place, and by the next time I'm home in October there will be nothing left of the centuries and centuries of history encompassed there. Nothing but the building works of 30 cramped-together houses, and memories.

*'Fife in History and Legend' by Raymond Lamont-Brown


  1. Anonymous said...
    I'm so sorry! That really stinks. I lived in Scotland for a year (did I mention that? I did a year at St. Andrews) and I loved its beautiful countryside. I can't imagine what it does to you to have your memories paved over.
    sloth-knits said...
    That's terrible news! I wonder what effect adding that many houses so quickly will have on the infrastructure too.

    Does your area have any land trusts? There's a patch of forest near my in-laws' place (New England) that was slated for development, but the local land trust bought it up and preserved it as woods. You can still see pipes sticking out of the ground that I assume would have been for water.
    Anonymous said...
    They might not even get round to building anything in the next couple of years because of the credit crunch. A lot of building companies have bought up land with the intention of building on them and they find they don't have the money or they know it's pointless because no-one can afford to buy their 'affordable' housing.

    Such a shame they want to ruin such a lovely place...

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