Before sledges gave way to motor cars
The old A2 from London passed through the ancient village of Harbledown on the last leg of its route to Canterbury.
This section of the road was narrow, hilly and winding. By the 1960s, with vehicles, especially lorries, increasing in size, weight and quantity, the traffic situation became very difficult. Delays were common, accidents frequent, and damage by vehicles to property was a regular occurrence.
Relief finally came in the early 1970s, with plans to by-pass the village to the north.
The first picture dates from May 1973 and shows a group of city councillors and bosses from the chosen construction contractor walking the route of the proposed new road before work had got under way. Note the surveyor’s poles marking out the route of the proposed bypass.
The site chosen was Duke’s Meadow, much beloved by generations of local children, and some adults, as a play area – especially in winter when the snowy slopes provided an excellent spot for sledging. The bypass put paid to such activities.
Hall Place can also be seen in both pictures. In 1973, it was home to Jennings Printers. Today, it is part of the ever-mushrooming Christ Church University.
Harbledown by-pass opened in 1974 and, initially, provided relief only to the core of that village. However, the road construction works continued onwards and in the direction of Faversham.
By 1975, farm buildings on the outskirts of the newly separated Upper Harbledown, were being demolished in preparation for the much more substantial Canterbury by-pass.
The second picture dates from 1997, and shows the steep slopes of the bypass that, in the intervening years, have become far more covered in trees and shrubs. Hall Place is also devoid of its surrounding, mature evergreen trees, which were all lost in the great storm of 1987.
The proposed route of Harbledown bypass, in 1973
The by-pass as it was in 1997