The suspicion is that it was a lost truck driver trying to get around the overnight closure of the A49. Whatever vehicle it was, it must have been severely damaged. Trucks like the one that hit the Buttercross last night are here today and scrapped tomorrow. The Buttercross has been a central feature of our town for more than two and a half centuries. It has been knocked about in the past but nothing like the damage last night. We are on the verge of a permanent closure of King Street.
The latest news from Shropshire Council is that it is not concerned about the stability of the building. But Heras fencing will need to be erected and King Street will be closed seven days a week and 24 hours a day.
If you have any knowledge of what happened, please contact Ludlow Town Council, firstname.lastname@example.org. Or ring 101 or Crimestoppers.
Negotiating between Bodenhams – a Grade II* listed building – and the Grade I listed Buttercross has long been a challenge. Experienced drivers, like those bringing the rides for the May Fair, know what they are doing and it is a spectacle in its own right. But then there are drivers in a rush who think they are driving in Milton Keynes with its wide boulevards.
Bodenhams has been bashed more times than memories can recall. The bollards outside are knocked over with depressing regularity. The no entry sign at the junction of Broad Street is a drunken wreck.
The Buttercross also has had its fair share of injuries. But nothing like last night’s damage.
The current assessment is that the Buttercross is not structurally damaged. But, with damage this extensive, the area in front of the building will be sealed off with Heras fencing and that will block traffic on King Street. That means that King Street will be closed 24×7 for the foreseeable future.
The damaged pillar can’t take another knock without serious structural damage to the Buttercross and a threat to people passing by.
The Buttercross is one of the most important historic buildings in the country. The repairs now needed cannot be a quick fix. They must be made using the correct stone and the right mortar. I cannot see permission being granted by Shropshire Council and Historic England for work this side of Christmas. And the insurers will need to agree the costings.
We are looking at a closure of King Street that could last many months.
Many residents will welcome that. It will create an enjoyable pedestrian atmosphere and space to look at shops rather than squeeze by people you are meant to be social distancing from.
But there will be difficulties getting deliveries into the town centre. Already, some couriers won’t deliver Fridays and Saturdays during the King Street midday closure because they are on tight deadlines. The pubs in the town centre are supplied by pantechnicons as well as our local sustainable brewery outlets. How will the drays get into the town centre?
One of the things we can’t ignore is that the food chain to Ludlow retailing is long. Goods come from far too far away and they come in large vehicles that arrive on their own timetables. Our town centre would not survive and thrive without them. That’s the biggest issue to tackle right now. We only have days to solve the logistics of getting stock into the town centre to keep shops and traders surviving and thriving.
This is the last thing we need as Ludlow recovers from the Covid-19 lockdown. But we should see it as an opportunity to think about how we manage our town and whether we can live without vehicles competing with pedestrians on King Street.