What a charming lot they are in Deal, Kent. Folk there asked me to open several days of celebration to mark the 50th anniversary of the centre not being razed. It might have been. The idea first appeared as a means of tidying up a bit of bomb damage in 1947.
Noël Coward, living in St Margaret’s Bay, put his name to a letter in The Times. Silence, then the same idea re-emerged in 1964. The planner, Sir John Allen, proposed flattening the whole of the historic centre, replacing it with high-rise blocks and car parks.
In the 18th century, Deal serviced the ships sheltered by the treacherous Goodwin Sands and claimed the wrecks of those who came to grief on them. Smuggling was rife. But Elizabeth Carter-a bluestocking who could make a pudding as well as she could translate the Roman author Epictetus, according to Dr Johnson-grew up here, and the town is well adapted to its situation, with narrow streets to keep the weather out. Then, along came Allen, wanting to turn it into a wind tunnel.
Three cheers for the Deal Society, formed to defeat the threat. Nowadays, its members would be called Nimbys, but I’d say it’s pretty obvious they were right.