It has been a long time since my good self visited Wycombe town centre.
In fact, by my rough calculations, yours truly hadn’t been in the town centre since the beginning of March, making it about fourteen weeks since my last visit.
Like most people my good self had no reason to visit and the fear of catching the dreaded virus was enough to make me stay at home.
However last Friday your humble servant had an important need to visit the town centre so I got in my trusty motor and ventured into town to see what was happening.
Driving into town there was very little traffic on the roads and the multi-storey car park of my choice was not only free to park in but it was almost empty with just a handful of cars parked there.
Walking towards the High Street it was shocking to see all the non-essential shops closed rather than open for business. There were very few people in White Hart Street as can be seen from the picture below.
Of course all the public houses in the town centre were closed as can be seen in the picture (below) of a long established public house at the western end of the High Street.
Friday is market day so surely it would be a bit busier around the market? To my horror there were only a handful of stalls, selling food, (as can be seen in the picture below) while the High Street itself was worryingly empty as can be seen from the picture at the top of this blog.
On the plus side there weren’t any of the market stalls present that use converted oil drums to cook food which send hideous clouds of smoke billowing across the High Street to the annoyance of passers by like myself.
Queues of people were standing outside the few establishments that were open as can be seen in the picture (below) of people queuing waiting to go into the branch of a well known bank in the High Street.
It seems the number of people allowed inside many of the shops was being limited and those waiting for entry were standing on pre-marked points on the pavement, to maintain the 2m social distance, until someone left and they could go in.
My good self happened to notice a couple of buses that passed by the eastern end of the High Street. Each bus had just four passengers onboard and they were spaced out too.
There were very few people walking around in the town centre generally and just a few were wearing masks like my good self.
Yours truly went into a large supermarket in the town centre. It was worryingly quiet with just a few customers browsing the shelves which were nowhere near as full before the virus problem started. Indeed the product ranges appeared to have been reduced with stock spread out to mask what would have been empty spaces on the shelves. Only four of the many checkouts in the supermarket were open and there were no long queues.
The scale to which the virus has ravaged Wycombe High Street is clear to see. In fact it’s worrying that so many shops and businesses have been shut for so long.
Once my business in the town centre was concluded I returned to my car. Before driving off my good self paused to reflect on what I had seen in the town centre. It was just too much for me and my good self started crying at the thought of all the businesses that must be in trouble as a result of the lockdown.
The big question is will our town centre recover once the lockdown is lifted? In my opinion recovery is going to be difficult especially if people continue to stay away. If customers have to queue outside, standing 2m apart, waiting to be let into a shop then it’s going to make things even harder.
What do you think?
My blogs are published regularly here on the WycombeToday.com website.