Copyright all Text and Images J.A. Hindle 2008
The clocktower stood at the northern end of the High Street and more or less marked the beginnings of town. Across the way was the Clocktower pub. A friend had told us it used to be a whorehouse during the Civil War and it wasn't hard to imagine the soldiers spilling out of it and onto the street. The clocktower itself marked the centre of the crossroads that had helped form Newbury in the first place. Roads running south from the whole of mid Berkshire converged here to cross the Kennet, fanning out again south of the bridge. Until the first ring road, the A4 had run through here, the Great Bath Road, still following the same trajectory outside the town.
All of this, all these merging of routes, largely accounted for the two Civil War battles that had been fought here. There was also the legend that the place would never let you leave, that once you'd lived here the crossroads would always draw you back. I think the only real compulsion was to do with whether or not Newbury was your home town, which have a pull all of their own.
We went through an old archway to the back of the pub, to check on the skips of the nearby shops. There were buildings here that looked as though they must have been stables once. In the halflight, I wouldn't have been surprised at all if ghosts had appeared, stable hands leading the horses about, officers soundlessly calling their men from the shadows. Juxtaposed weirdly with this was the looming stark tower of the modern Vodafone offices, so it seemed as though two worlds were overlapping and in competition with each other, like soldiers themselves or plants in the forest. Delving for cakes behind the Health Food shop, I knew which side I was on.