Recently the lockdown conditions were lifted slightly and many non-essential shops were able to open for the first time in weeks.
You may have seen my last blog that featured pictures taken last Friday of a worryingly empty Wycombe town centre entitled ‘Can Wycombe town centre recover from the lockdown?‘
As more of the non-essential shops were able to open Monday 15th June 2020 yours truly was expecting there to be an increase in people in the town centre and perhaps the first signs of a recovery taking place.
It just so happened that my good self needed to go to the town centre again on Thursday, this time during the late morning. It may have been raining earlier in the day but the sight that greeted me was extremely concerning.
Rather than being busier, if anything the town was quieter than my previous visit last Friday. Despite the car parks and roadside pay and display parking still being free there were very few cars on the road and a far lower number of shoppers that expected.
Desborough Road was extremely quiet with many shops still closed with their shutters down. The were some shops that were open but sadly there were no customers about.
As anyone who lives or works in High Wycombe knows, it’s always busy in Desborough Avenue but even this road was deserted with not a single car or person in sight.
Bridge Street (below) was deserted, the occasional bus was leaving the bus station but there were very few passengers on-board and the bus station itself was almost deserted with just a few passengers milling around.
Usually there are lots of people walking from the bus station to the shopping centre however at the time of my visit the walkway was practically deserted as can be seen in the picture below.
In White Hart Street a lorry was delivering but there was nobody else around.
Usually there are always a lot of people walking along Paul’s Row, but at the time of my visit it was practically deserted.
It was even deserted under the Guild Hall in the High Street.
As for the High Street, well in my view it was even quieter than during my visit last Friday. Of course there is no market on a Thursday but even so the lack of people walking around is worrying.
The popular fast food restaurant in the High Street was still closed. Usually it’s one of the busiest buildings in the High Street with customers visiting to enjoy the food served in the restaurant. But the power of Covid has changed all that and what was probably one of Wycombe’s busiest buildings is now standing empty with the lights out.
My good self was the only person in the whole of Queen Victoria Road. The levels of traffic using the road were very low (see picture below) which means that presumably other towns are quiet too as the road is a main thoroughfare through Wycombe for vehicles travelling from the M40 and Marlow to Amersham.
The picture below shows an all but deserted Frogmoor with just a handful of people in the very far distance.
In Oxford Road there was also nobody about, as shown in the following picture.
Usually there is a lot of traffic using Oxford Road, indeed without the pedestrian crossing it’s virtually impossible to cross from the supermarket to the bus station. But at the time of my visit there was not a vehicle in sight.
In fact it was so deserted it was safe to stop half way across the crossing to take a picture in the middle of the road (below).
Before Covid came the stretch of Oxford Road leading to West Wycombe Road (below) was extremely busy, but it wasn’t when my good self visited.
It’s not as if shoppers have to pay for parking, indeed at the time of my visit most car parks were free to park in and road side pay and display parking was free too with notices stuck on the roadside parking machines.
The single biggest number of people in one location that my good self saw during my visit to the town centre was outside the supermarket in Oxford Road (see picture below).
The long queue of shoppers were waiting patiently for their turn to be let into the shop. It’s tragic that in modern times people have to queue to get food from the supermarkets of the town.
The virus has ravaged Wycombe town centre. Yours truly was hoping there would be more people around once the non-essential shops were allowed to reopen. But from what I saw during my visit on Thursday this has not turned out to be the case.
So I hear you say that it was a rainy day so this could affect the number of people, that’s very true, however there were practically no vehicles on the road and the rain had very little effect on traffic volume during the pre-Covid days.
So when will the recovery come? Or more worryingly perhaps the question should be ‘Will the recovery ever come?’. Following my visit to the town centre today I fear the worst….
What do you think?
My blogs are published regularly here on the WycombeToday.com website.