Catalogue ReferenceD/EX2473
TitleRecords of the Newbury Bypass Protest Campaign
DescriptionThe papers in this collection relate to the campaign work carried out by the Third Battle of Newbury, both administrative and ephemeral.
RepositoryBerkshire Record Office (code: GB 005)
Extent2 vols, 74 bdls, 15 docs
Admin HistoryThe A34 Newbury Bypass was a controversial road project which faced fierce opposition from local residents and environmentalists. The proposed route ran through sites of significant scientific and historical interest, including Snelsmore Common, the vicinity of the Rivers Lambourn and Kennet, Penn Wood, part of the North Wessex Downs (an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty), the registered Civil War battlefield site of the First Battle of Newbury, and The Chase (a National Trust nature reserve). It was further discovered that areas of the proposed bypass route were home to a rare snail, known as Desmoulin’s Whorl Snail.

A bypass for the town of Newbury was first proposed in 1936 and again in 1965. Following increased traffic in the 1970s, the Department of Transport began examining a potential 39 routes in 1979, and in 1982 announced they would be holding exhibitions on four possible routes; one to the west, one to the east and two through the centre of Newbury. In 1985 it was announced the preferred route was the western route and controversies arose because of the potential environmental damage.

The initial campaign was fought by the Society for the Prevention of a Western Bypass (SPEWBY), which led to a lengthy Public Inquiry in 1988 where ten alternative routes were proposed containing variations to the Department of Transport’s western route. Despite a concerted effort from SPEWBY who argued that the decision was illegal because no Environmental Impact Assessment had been undertaken, the inquiry ruled in favour of the road and plans were submitted to Parliament.

In July 1990, the western route was approved by the Secretaries of State for Environment and Transport.
Another Public Inquiry (relating to the slip roads and Compulsory Purchase Orders) was held in 1992, with the main opposition coming from the National Trust.

Construction was supposed to start in 1994 but the Secretary of State for Transport (Brian Mawhinney) delayed construction pending a further review. In 1995 Mawhinney announced that construction would proceed, and subsequently resigned from office. The bypass faced considerable protest from one main campaign group formed in February 1994, who adopted the name the Third Battle of Newbury. In the summer of 1994 they set up protest camps along the bypass route to prevent construction workers from building on the site. They also had a headquarters in Newbury town centre where they produced all their campaign material. Some protests resulted in protesters being arrested and some were sent to prison.

The road opened to traffic in 1998.
AcquisitionPresented in February 2015 (acc. 9577)
ArrangementArrangement of the catalogue

1 Third Battle of Newbury Campaign Office
1/1 Campaign administration
1/2 Petitions and pledges of support
1/3 Campaign material and publicity

2 Third Battle of Newbury: direct action
2/1 Papers from the protest camps
2/2 Court cases
2/3 Prisoner support

3 Miscellaneous
3/1 Records of the Society for the Prevention of the Western Bypass (SPEWBY)
3/2 Other legal challenges
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