This column, initially titled ‘Marlow Memories’ has been running since 2005, and in that time I have tried hard not to repeat too many subjects or pictures, still plenty of things not yet featured.

However, a single-line comment last autumn brought so many enquiries and questions that it was obvious that a large percentage of today’s Marlow Free Press readers (either too young, or newer arrivals in the town) were unaware of the crazy 1965 plan to build a bypass just north of the town centre and pedestrianise many of our streets.

So it’s a repeat today of the page I produced in 2011.

Stand by to be surprised, and your comments are welcomed.

Maybe you think it was a good idea!

This what I wrote back then, and above are the original drawings....

“No photographs this week, just a plan and some rather crudely drawn sketches, but I am sure that this edition of ‘Memories’ will surprise many of you.

Back in 1965 when a decision had just been made to (thankfully) retain and rebuild our famous suspension bride; and when the bypass and new river bridge were being actively planned, there was another and very controversial scheme being proposed, and one that is now almost forgotten.

I have a report, produced by the Buckinghamshire Departments of Architecture, Planning, and Highways, that proposed to totally pedestrianise the High Street, West Street, Spittal Street and Chapel Street, and to build a dual carriageway relief road from a new Pound Lane roundabout, crossing over Henley Road, and passing to the north of West Street and Spittal Street.

Another roundabout was to be built just above Spittal Square and the carriageway would proceed through the Rookery grounds along the line of Chapel Street and finally come to a third and final roundabout at Maple Rise.

This of course was before the construction of Rookery Court and the Spring Gardens and Herons Place developments.

I quote from the lengthy report… “High Street, West Street, and Spittal Street are proposed as a traffic-free shopping precinct served by car parks and back service roads.

Once these streets are used only by pedestrians the clutter of road signs can be removed: the worst case is the collection on the obelisk.

The High Street could well have to plant up the centre of the services underneath permit this.”

(The report and plans continually misspell Spittal Street as ‘Spital’ Street.)

That small paragraph might sound just about reasonable, but just imagine the huge cost of the construction, the massive disruption during the work, and the loss of a number of historic dwellings, plus the probable lack of atmosphere in streets quiet and deserted at times.

One town where something similar did go ahead, also in the 1960s, was Bracknell and that is now being viewed as a bit of a disaster.

I’m glad it did not happen here, although when I opened my record shop in Spittal Street in the early 1970s, the proposals were still very much active.”