I took these photographs in the 1980s as the M40 extension from Oxford to Birmingham was being built through South Warwickshire. The route was close to the village where I grew up and it grieved me to see so much land destroyed to make a road.
The environmental impact was bad enough, but the way if affected peoples’ lives was worse. I know it was too much for some farmers as their farms were cut in half making it impossible to continue.
The last vestiges of a rural way of life that had existed for a hundred years or more was destroyed to be replaced by mass commuter housing schemes. Some will say that it is ‘progress’ but at what cost? We are seeing it again now on an even bigger scale with huge tracts of land, woods, streams ponds, swept away for HS2.
(Click an image to enlarge)
The excuse this time is that it will shorten north-south journey times by a few minutes. Living in ‘the North’ I can assure you that most people here don’t care about getting to London quicker, they just want better local services.
When will we learn that life is much more about the fastest train ride or quicker roads and more about the land in which we live? We are systematically destroying the very thing that keep us alive – and will come to regret it very soon.
The “M40 Warwickshire” exhibition was shown at the Ikon gallery, Birmingham in 1988. A smaller, lightweight version also toured until 1991 as part of the Ikon gallery touring programme.