In 1962, Petersfield and its surroundings were designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. In the same year, developers threatened to transform the town forever.
20 years after World War Two ended, there were gaps in Petersfield’s Square and High Street. But bombs dropped in wartime weren’t the cause. Developers had arrived in Petersfield, and the price of their work was some of the town’s historic buildings.
The Raglan company had plans for over £23 million of development in today’s money. Some people thought that this would be good for Petersfield, while others fought hard to preserve the town they knew and loved. The Girls’ County High School was one of the buildings lost in the battle. But Raglan scaled back its plans, and Petersfield retained its unique character.
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Imagine having to clean the 998 windows of Petersfield’s new paper factory. Calibrated Papers, built in 1960 in Swan Street, was a brilliant example of Modernist design. Unfortunately, it wasn’t very environmentally friendly and was demolished in 1982.
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Petersfield County High School for Girls (PCHS)
The walls crumbled, the stairs creaked and beetles crawled around the County High School. Even so, the students loved it, and were sad to see it demolished. The building that replaced it won a major design award.
Drawing of Petersfield County High School, 1960
The frame is made from timbers salvaged from the building, which dated back to the 1700s. It was a coaching inn until World War One, when it housed the x-ray department for local Red Cross hospitals.
Petersfield County High School hat and hat band, around 1960
Owned by Jennifer Fisher
Petersfield County High School tie, around 1960
Petersfield County High School inter-form trophy, 1928-1938
In 1913, another of Petersfield’s historic buildings was demolished. Castle House was built in the 1500s and stood on the site of the old Post Office in the Square. The Petersfield Workshop, where local artist Flora Twort had her studio, used wood salvaged from the building to make this trophy.
The 1960s was a period of significant change for Petersfield. It saw the end of the historic cattle market and the demolition and rebuilding of parts of the town centre. Don Eades, freelance photographer for the Petersfield Post captured that change. He recently donated his collection of around 107,000 photographic negatives to Petersfield Museum.
Don Eades’ Mamiya 23 Standard camera with 65mm lens, mid-1960s
Don Eades probably used this camera to photograph the demolition of the County High School in 1965.
Don Eades’ tripod, late 1900s
Don Eades’ Weston Master III light meter, late 1950s
Before cameras came with in-built light meters, photographers used a separate handheld device to measure light levels. They then used the dials on their camera to control the film’s exposure to light.
Letter from Alan Ray to Sir John Brown, A E Henson and Partners, 2 June, 1960
The Petersfield Society was ‘concerned to see that any developments are in keeping with the town as we know it’. But Alan Ray, director of builders’ merchants Gammon & Smith Ltd, argued that if there was going to be building development in Petersfield, it should reflect modern architectural styles.
Letter from FC Hawkes to members of The Petersfield Society, 24 March 1962
Honourable Secretary of the Petersfield Society, FC Hawkes, passes on a statement to society members worried that Raglan’s development would alter the town’s character. It assures that ‘no plans of the sort described in the press’ had been put to the County Planning Committee.
Drawing of the Petersfield County High School for Girls, the old Post Office and Clare Cross on Petersfield High Street by Flora Twort, 1963
Flora Twort was against Raglan’s plans to tear down buildings in Petersfield. She created this sketch of the Girls’ High School and old Post Office on the High Street in protest of their demolition.