Rue Britannia: How icons are vanishing for ever
BRITAIN'S identity is being lost as traditional icons like red telephone boxes, lollipop ladies and milkmen gradually disappear from its streets, research has found.
Residents believe the decline of services such as the village post office and greengrocer are changing the country's look and spirit.
They think traditions like fried breakfasts and Sunday being "a day of rest" are parts of the country's cultural landscape that are slowly fading away, according to a survey.
In a study of British iconic history, the rise of supermarkets, shopping centres and commercial chains are blamed for the loss of British institutions.
Consumers now buy their milk from supermarkets, although more than one in four say they miss the convenience of daily deliveries by milk floats.
And 58 per cent of those surveyed say the disappearance of local post offices leads directly to a loss of British identity.
The poll of 2,000 adults was conducted by Tango and shows that 41 per cent think the phasing-out of red phone boxes is a national loss.
The 2003 withdrawal of Concorde and the decline of the pound note, lollipop ladies, tearooms and the singing of the national anthem are all causes for concern, according to the study.
William Palin, the secretary of Save Britain's Heritage, blamed local authorities for the demise in traditional services. He said: "Local governments feel embarrassed by our cultural inheritance and are glad to see the back of those things, such as post offices and telephone boxes, which anchor us in our communities and the places we live.
"We have been campaigning for 30 years to prevent the destruction of our built heritage. It is our buildings and public spaces that define local distinctiveness and the special character of our towns and cities."
The study also found that many believe other homegrown icons, such as pubs, pantomimes and even the Royal Family, are under threat as the cultural landscape changes.
One in five cited the TV show Top of the Pops as a typically British institution they miss since the programme was culled for more modern alternatives.
But Peter Wilson, an architect from Napier University, Edinburgh, said that change was inevitable.
He said: "So much of the love of the past expressed in this study of iconic history is expressed through rose-tinted spectacles that ignore the downside. Polio and rickets were part of the same British tradition, and we have had no regrets about their disappearance."
NAMED because of the circular sign that they carry, the lollipop ladies have safeguarded generations of schoolchildren as they crossed the road.
Under UK law it is an offence for a motorist not to stop if signalled to do so by a patroller.
In the past, lollipop ladies, often older people who have retired from full-time employment, would use chalk to write on their lollipop signs the registration numbers of cars that failed to stop. They are employed by local authorities, although in recent years their popularity has dwindled.
In April this year, lollipop ladies' signs were being fitted with micro-cameras to record drivers who failed to stop.
THE first Bank of England 1 note was ordered by William Pitt the Younger in February 1797. Following the 1983 introduction of the 1 coin, the note became increasingly rare and was withdrawn in 1988.
In Scotland in 1826, there was outrage when parliament tried to prevent the production of bank notes of less than five pounds. Sir Walter Scott wrote a series of letters to the Edinburgh Weekly Journal under the pseudonym "Malachi Malagrowther", which provoked such a response that the government was forced to relent and allow Scottish banks to continue printing 1 notes.
Scott still appears on all Bank of Scotland notes.
THE milkman – a man who delivers bottles or cartons of milk directly to the door – is a phenomenon dying out in modern Britain.
Milkmen have served communities for more than 100 years, delivering morning milk by cart or, more recently, electric float. Traditionally, the milkman would also supply other dairy products, such as cream, cheese, yoghurt, butter and eggs, and sometimes soft drinks, too. Originally, milk needed to be delivered to houses daily, since poor refrigeration meant it would quickly go off. The rise in the use of home refrigerators was the first issue to hit milkmen, and then the coming of supermarkets cut the need for milk to be delivered daily.
THE Post Office was traditionally the hub of communities, providing all kinds of non-postal services such as passport applications, government forms, money orders, and banking services.
The Post Office was officially part of the Royal Mail until 1981. Since then post offices, particularly in rural areas have seen increased closures as the public have gone elsewhere for their services.
The company, Post Offices Ltd, made a 102 million loss in the second half of 2006.
Post offices are now being sold off countrywide and some 2,500 sub-post offices will be closed between 2008-9.
THE Concorde supersonic passenger airliner was a product of a British-French government treaty.
Only 20 aircraft were made, and the costly development phase represented a substantial economic loss. Launched in 1969, Concorde's service began in 1976 and continued for 27 years.
Although Concorde was the more successful of the only two supersonic airliners ever to have operated commercially – the other was the Tupolev Tu-144 – the line was discontinued in 2003 after the 2000 Paris crash which killed 113 people. A Concorde can be seen on display in the Museum of Flight in East Lothian.
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Wednesday 22 May 2013
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