Dear Reader: Defending Nidd Gorge + hidden artistic treasure

Volunteers from Nidd Gorge Community group at their Easter family event on Sunday. (Picture by Nidd Gorge Photography)
Volunteers from Nidd Gorge Community group at their Easter family event on Sunday. (Picture by Nidd Gorge Photography)

So far I've not heard anyone on my travels voice the opinion that beauty spot Nidd Gorge is the right location for a bypass to cure Harrogate and Knaresborough’s mounting traffic woes.

Not one single person.

The Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers.

The Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers.

Now I know the Harrogate district doesn’t really do militant protest but I can feel trouble in the air if North Yorkshire County Council picks this ancient green space as the preferred route of a possible relief road.

Now, said trouble is unlikely to reach the level of the Third Heathrow Runway but I wouldn’t be surprised if a few angry citizens tied themselves to a tree or two.

No one is arguing with the general principle.

Anyone who has to drive bumper-to-bumper along Knaresborough Road or Skipton Road in daylight hours would be tempted to press the bypass button.

But even if we park matters of the Nidd Gorge’s history and environment, there’s the obvious point that the main aim of a relief road is to help drivers avoid going into town.

But anyone who’s driven into Harrogate amid the quiet of a school holiday period will tell you congestion appears to be caused by people wanting to get into town.

I’m not someone who harks back to the days of horse and carts.

I like Tarmac and concrete and cars.

But a bypass, whererever it is located, doesn’t look likely to address the situation.

Why not construct a truly comprehensive series of park-and-rides?

Or stagger school opening hours?

Or create proper cycle lanes which feel safe for cyclists?

There is one other more radical way of controlling traffic growth, though it is sadly out of the question these days.

A strict moratorium on new housing developments.

Behind the non-descript doors of a tatty-looking suite of derelict 1970s offices in an unlikely part of Harrogate lies a significant part of modern cultural history.

I’d been invited to a veteran artist’s store of past work in my role as an unofficial ‘go-between’ for said artist and an art gallery.

For obvious reasons I can’t say exactly where the offices are, what the artist is called or which gallery is involved.

It’s all tied up in an exhibition which may or may not happen. It’s a long story.

As an art lover from my youngest days at school, I was quietly excited to be there.

The chance to enjoy a sneak look round an artist’s personal archives is never to be sniffed at. But I also felt a little sad.

The unloved room and its casually displayed contents amounted to this veteran artist’s autobiography.

Hailing from Yorkshire, the great man’s work has made an impact far beyond its roots.

What was hanging in the air of this dishevelled space was the dust of his life and his many achievements.