Dear Reader: Harrogate's worst level crossing + a true rock n roll moment

A personal column by the Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers

Friday, 29th March 2019, 2:00 pm
Updated Friday, 29th March 2019, 2:08 pm
True Harrogate music royalty - Roy Webber on stage with legendary Harrogate band Wally.

Harrogate's worst level crossing

If had £10 for every time I’ve been caught at the level crossing at Starbeck in Harrogate well, to be honest, I could be living nicely in the south of France right now.

I know I’m not alone in having come to curse that particular railway line for its detrimental impact on drivers attempting to make progress on the main road linking Knaresborough and Harrogate.

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So, when a reader of this newspaper got in touch last week saying he not only knew why the barrier on Starbeck High Street stays down so long but knows what to do about it, I decided I had to meet him.

Face to face, this retired former solicitor seemed ordinary enough but, if he’s right, what he told me could have extraordinary implications.

Based on what looked like a huge amount of research including timings, tables, videos and detailed comparisons with level crossings at other towns across the UK, this publicly-spirited member of the public was convinced that, at worst, the barrier could, and should, be down for one minute less each time.

That doesn’t sound much but the undoubted financial costs of tinkering with the crossing may be worth for the simple reason that, currently, the barrier comes down then goes up at Starbeck approximately 40 times a day.

For a single driver using the road a lot that adds up to a wait of 40 minutes per day, 280 minutes a week, 1,120 minutes a month...You get the picture.

Multiply that by the number of drivers travelling along this major road on a regular basis...

A true rock n roll moment

Harrogate isn’t widely regarded as rock n roll town but, perhaps, it’s time that perception changed a little?

There is actually quite a bit of history to back up that bold statement, even if Harrogate does tend retain certain standards when it comes to the world of two guitars, a bass and drums.

Even last weekend’s packed birthday bash for Roy Webber, true Harrogate music royalty, proved to be a glitzy up-market affair.

Elvis, himself, turned up at The Ivory Bar in quiff and black leather, no, not the real one, obviously.

The live music was genuine, however, and of a very high quality, as you’d expect from someone who was good enough to get signed by Atlantic Records with the band Wally back in the 1970s before going on to set up his own internationally-successful sports branding business.

His talented daughter Holly, following in her dad’s footsteps, also sang a couple of numbers at the party with her trademark heart and soul.

Still, overall, this well-organised birthday bash was an occasion for posh dresses and suits, a mood broken only once when a large glass of red wine found itself spilt all over one guest’s gleaming white shirt.

Even here, the person concerned handled the situation with calm aplomb.

Without so much as a murmer, he removed the stained shirt, then stood chatting away to me in a completely dignified fashion topless as if it was the most normal thing in the world for more than ten minutes before someone thought to go and find him a new shirt. Rock n roll.