Wednesday 14th July 2021 marked the 30th anniversary of the opening of the Wimborne Distributor Road. The Road runs through Wimborne from the bottom of Stone Lane with its junction with West Borough to Rodways Corner taking in Priors Walk, Hanham Road, Rowlands Hill and Lewens Lane.
The Road had been many years in the making but there was great opposition to it by large numbers of the Towns residents. A Distributor Road Action Group was formed and in 1989 the then Mayor Margery Ryan organised a Public meeting in the Allendale Centre, the main hall was packed. The Mayor suggested a ‘straw poll’ be taken of those present, there was only one person in favour of the new road system!
The Action Group gained momentum over the next two years, help was sought and obtained from people away from the area who had problems in their own areas, there were petitions, protest marches and even a banner parade outside County Hall in Dorchester on the day the Councillors were to make a decision on whether to go ahead with the scheme or not. Members of the Action Group were allowed three minutes each to put their case forward. “We lost”, said Anthony Oliver, Chairman of the Action Group and the Road was given the go ahead with work starting at the end of 1990.
So on the 14th July 2021 to mark the 30th anniversary of the opening Anthony Oliver and Robin Cook who were Chairman and Secretary respectively of the Action Group took part in a photo call at Rodways Corner. They sat on the seat which they had unveiled on the 15th anniversary back in 2006 and reminisced over the Scrapbook containing photos of the changes as they took place all those years ago.
Interestingly neither Robin nor Anthony were involved in local council politics back in 1989 although as a result of his involvement in the campaign Anthony was elected to Wimborne Minster Town Council in May 1991 just two months before the road was opened. Robin followed a few years later going onto becoming an East Dorset District Councillor and a Dorset County Councillor. Both served as Town Mayors of Wimborne Minster on a number of occasions.
After Wednesdays event Robin said “July 1991 saw the last major alteration to the towns road system. This was partly due to the opening of the Wimborne bypass in 1980 and the variation in traffic movements associated with that.
Since then, only piecemeal changes have taken place, often pushing the problem from one place to another.
This 30th anniversary gives us a perfect opportunity to highlight the current problems and lobby the responsible authorities for a complete overhaul of the system with a view to producing a new scheme fit for the 21st century”
Photograph by Tom Scrase
(Robin Cook on the left and Anthony Oliver on the right – sitting on the seat at Rodways Corner)