Didn't they try putting gates in before?

Yes! Find out what happened in 1987 ...

The 1987 Southfield and Divinity Road Gates - the success and failure!

The following is based on resident Andrew Wilkinson's experience of living on the corner of Southfield Road and Minster Road in 1987, when two double gates were installed across Divinity and Southfield Roads between Minster and Warneford Roads.

The aim was to close the roads to through traffic – the so called “Rat Run”.

At the same time East Avenue, Union and Dawson Streets were closed, and Jeune Street and Rectory Road became one-way. These latter changes have continued to this day.

What were the Southfield and Divinity Road gates like?

There were no bollards, and the road-way was not narrowed by planters or chicanes.

They were essentially flimsy 2 inch tubular triangular double metal gates with a key operated lock and chain in the middle.

The gates, when opened, swung across the road towards the pavement. A single opening allowed a normal car to pass; both parts of the gate needed to be opened when an ambulance, fire engine, refuse truck or any other similar sized vehicles needed access.

Objections were soon raised by the emergency services. Keys were available but to stop, get out to open the gates, and close them (and re-lock them) after passing through took time. Some taxi drivers ‘obtained’ a key. This quickly led to the gates often being left unlocked or open.

Another idiosyncrasy was that the space between the short pillars supporting the gates and the garden walls (i.e. the pavement +) was wide enough for a Mini to drive through!

Initially it was a great success and supported by residents. The ‘rat run' traffic was completely eliminated. Local traffic was much slower, and no reversing or turning of local cars, or delivery vans was necessary as the two cross-streets (Minster and Warneford) allowed this to occur. Cycling, walking and mobility scooters were not affected.

The ‘experiment’ began to fail when the gates were left open and the support pillars bent. The gates literally fell into the roadway. Safety concerns were raised with the County Council about the cheap and ineffective design, and the lack of oversight of the locking. It was thought to have been a waste of an opportunity and a waste of money.


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