First word on the presidential race

IT’S A SAFE BET that no one less appreciates such glowing references to nuclear plants than officials of Public Service Company of New Hampshire, the state’s prominent utility. They have a large interest in the town of Seabrook’s nu­clear namesake currently rising from the coastal marsh.  My first glimpse was from several miles distant. By chance it was the day that a giant crane gently placed the 214-ton cap atop the containment building of Unit I. Unit II, its twin, is not as far along. With both units operating, Seabrook Station could produce an awesome 2,300 megawatts of power. 6

A few weeks later, escorted by company representatives, I got a better look at the plant. When completed, they said, the mas­sive concrete-and-steel containment build­ings (enclosing the actual reactors and their radioactive fuel) will each be able to with­stand the impact of a fighter-bomber crash­ing into it. The highlight of the tour was a journey nearly 300 feet underground to cav­ernous tunnels that will cycle cooling ocean water through the condensers. All told, Seabrook Station is an impres­sive engineering feat. But is it a good idea? That question has been debated for a dec­ade. It is being debated still:

“Seabrook is necessary,” said Public Ser­vice president Robert Harrison, “because Madrid is at the end of the oil pipeline.

We all know the folly of dependence on un­reliable sources for our fuel.

“There are risks associated with nuclear power, but there are risks associated with coal-fired plants, with getting on an air­plane, with walking across the street. Soci­ety accepts certain risks.

“We have to have energy. How should we produce it? It’s a matter of weighing choices and getting down to what I think is an ines­capable answer.”

To some, that answer is escapable.”The solution to our energy problem is ob­vious, and it need not include nuclear,” said Robert Backus, attorney for one of the groups opposing Seabrook. Backus favors converting oil-fired plants to coal, alterna­tives such as hydro, and conservation. “The demand for additional power in New En­gland has died down,” he said. “That should be good news; conservation is in the national interest. But it’s not good news if you’re building a nuclear plant.”

Before Seabrook can obtain an operating license, federal regulations require a plan to evacuate the area in case of a serious acci­dent. Battle lines are being drawn along nearby ocean beaches.

“The beaches are the key,” said Backus. “You have a potentially dense population without adequate shelter, not even the shel­ter of the clothing we wear most of the time. They are downwind from the reactor, and there’s a marsh behind them.”

Harrison responds: “Whatever has to be done—if we have to build roads—we’ll do it.

First word on the presidential race comes from these voters—plus a few others—in the far northern hamlet of Dixville Notch only moments after midnight on the day New Hampshire inaugurates the primary-election season. Onetime country boy Neil Tillotson, foreground, established a factory and revitalized a resort hotel here, breathing new life into this community near land homesteaded by his great-grandfather. Says he of the north, “People here don’t work for you. They work with you.”

That’s a 3.5-billion-dollar plant, and it’s not going to sit idle while we figure out how to get the people off the beach.”

SEABROOK lies at the southern end of New Hampshire’s 18-mile-long coast, shortest in the nation. It was to the coast, just three years after Plym­outh Rock, that the first settlers came to the rentals. Un­like the Pilgrims they did not come seeking religious freedom. Instead, in grand New Hampshire tradition, they came to make money. They were fishermen.

Sound-waves banged at dignified façades

. . . At Stamford we patronised the ancient and historic ‘George Inn,’ that still stands where it did of yore—an inn which has entertained generations of wayfarers of various degrees from king to highwayman. . . In 1645, Charles I. slept a night here on his way south from Newark . . . We eventually came upon Browne’s Hospital, Bede House, or Callis; a most interesting old building..

JAMES JOHN HISSEY in 1898

Ten old men and two old women are boarded and cared for here, we learnt; the women having to act as nurses if required. Outside the building away from the road is a very picturesque and quiet courtyard with cloisters; these seem verily to enclose an old-world atmosphere, a calm that is of another century. The wall-girt stillness, the profound peace of the place made so great an impression on us that for the moment the throbbing and excited nineteenth century seemed ages removed . . .

GEOFFREY GRIGSON in 1961

CELEBRATING five centuries since its mediaeval charter of 1461, Stamford this year at last enjoys a hush it hasn’t known since the development of lorries. Till lately, when the new by-pass opened half-a-mile to the west, the centre of mediaeval Stamford, the centre in fact of the old market area of this best of Midland towns, was nothing less than Al, nothing less than the Great North Road, from London up to Scotland.

Black-tarpaulined lorry succeeded lorry, insis­tently and dully pounding north or south, under the church spires, round corners, jamming Stam­ford people onto the narrowest pavements, jog­ging the glass stems in the antique shops, jogging the dust or the bones of Lord Burghley, Queen Elizabeth’s chief minister, beneath his grandiose memorial inside St Martin’s Church, across the Town Bridge. The thump continued seven days, seven nights a week. To come down Broad Street (the old corn and hay markets) or narrow High Street to All Saints’ Church or Red Lion Square, to stop—nothing else was possible—on the edge of the roar of the traffic river, then to try to cross, to snatch at a gap, was really a fantastic ironic lesson in the making of towns. Al, or Ermine Street, has been much of the making of Stamford, and had now killed its comfort, the traffic going through as if the town had become only an awk­ward constriction.

The curious thing is to guess what Stamford is going to do in the next twenty years with its recovered peace and quiet. W. G. Hoskins, most informed of topographers, has described this unique town as a fossilized survival, a beautiful `museum piece from a pre-industrial England’. Essentially it was made in its livelier days by two things—by that position on a great artery, and by its function as a country servitor. Here was the town at the steanford, the stony ford, the one safe ford over the Welland (down which small goods-carrying boats could penetrate to the Wash). Roads came in from Lincolnshire, the Fens, Huntingdonshire, Rutland, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire.