Adam Lee Potter: T. E. Lawrence would turn in his grave
PUBLISHED: 12:25 10 November 2015 | UPDATED: 12:25 10 November 2015
The peaceful fields around Moreton may soon become quarries. Surely this would have its most famous former resident T E Lawrence turning in his grave?
I was born in Poole, grew up in Wareham and went to school in Corfe Mullen, then Blandford. My first job - as a cub reporter for the Western Gazette - was in Sherborne.
Since becoming a father nine years ago, all I have ever wanted was to gift my daughter the priceless, bucolic Dorset childhood that I had.
After years of trying, in vain, to escape London, we finally - joyously - made it back home four years ago, sickened by traffic, pollution and urban decay.
The turning point came when our thuggish neighbour swore at our young daughter in the street and made her cry.
Our neighbour on the other side was so incensed, that he went round that night with a sharpened screwdriver, threatening to take the man’s eyes.
It was time to go.
Exactly 12 months ago - after a three-year search - we at last found our forever house: a glorious Victorian relic on the fringe of one of Dorset’s prettiest villages, set amongst woods and hedgerows in the midst of lush agricultural fields that have been farmed by the same family for generations.
We have barn owls in the trees and bats in the attic. My daughter’s bedroom looks out across green meadows that are home to herds of deer.
We thought we were set for life.
Today, we are sadly - but pugnaciously - less sure. Richard Frampton Hobbs - the local landowner and the scion to James Frampton, the bully who, back in 1834, set the dogs on the Tolpuddle Martyrs - wants to cash in, selling off parcels of land on the outskirts of his vast estate.
The 145-acre fields that ring the village will - if he has his way - be leased or sold to quarry developers who plan to dig out 2.4million tonnes of sand and gravel over 12 years.
The squire’s estate will, of course, be largely untouched but Moreton will be ruined forever. When the pits are exhausted, all that will be left of these beautiful, green fields will be a dirty great big hole half-filled with - because of the iron deposits - blood-red rainwater. The wildlife will be gone and the fields - raped of their minerals - will never be farmed again.
This is Hardy’s beloved Moreford, where his great friend T. E. Lawrence lived, died and is buried. Its picturesque ford, tea rooms and church, with its spectacular, Whistler-engraved windows, have been a much-loved Mecca for years.
The village is already - thanks to the same landowner - poised to get 900 new homes. As any fool knows, houses and quarries do not go together.
Our road - an old B road - was not designed to sustain the current levels of traffic, let alone a new quarry that will flood the village with 80 trucks a day.
And for what? For a little bit of money. It’s enough to make me think almost fondly of our dreadful, old London neighbours.
If you love Dorset, please help us stick up for Moreton - it could be your village next. If we do nothing now, soon there will nothing much left of Dorset but sand and gravel pits and a few rich men.
T. E. Lawrence would turn in his grave.
If this proposed quarry does go ahead - so close to his final resting place - he actually probably will.
• Adam Lee-Potter on the stress of moving house - Sixty plus boxes, five sofas, a child and a Labrador - moving still feels as stressful as divorce or bereavement even when your new home is just down the road
• Adam Lee-Potter on father and daughter bonding - Some father and daughter bonding in the great outdoors is on the agenda, but will we have thrilling derring-do adventures or will I fall at the first hurdle?