Amazon’s ‘Tardis’ lands

The big blue box arrived

Yet another monolithic slab of street furniture has appeared in our historic town. This time it’s blue and calls itself Amazon Hub. It has instructions in French and has clearly come lately across La Manche.

“It’s not a hub, it’s an outrage” is one opinion heard recently. “This visual horror is now sitting in the station car park. Is one of your investigative journalists interested in following it up in some way? Is it a clever financial deal between the railway and Amazon? Did it need planning permission? Will all stations have one? Who wants it? Anyway, it is large, ugly and dominating, and certainly not a hub.”

This part-time volunteer journalist undertook to examine the structure and make an interim report, interim because it is the Christmas holiday period and offices are closed and in national lock-down mode. Further enquiries might encounter aspects of commercial confidentiality such as the nature of Amazon’s contract with Network Rail, but also cast light on other important questions – such as the possible granting of deemed planning consent for the installation.

The machine is akin to a left luggage box, which used to be found at major provincial railway stations and the London termini before the period of IRA bombing closed them all down. Presumably, the pre-notified dispatch number of the Amazon requested article is logged into the key pad and with a “Hey Presto” or “Open Sesame” the locker door swings open to reveal another fleetingly cherished item of must-have possession. The site of the hub next to the recycling point as seen in the picture might give the game away to the cynically minded.

Who benefits? 

As to who wants it, during my brief period of observation there was no rush of customers, not a soul in sight in fact; but I surmise that it could constitute a desirable adjunct to modern living, especially for those who have let Amazon into their lives and are away from home for much of the day.

And again, to think positive, the object could be a boon for the hard-pressed white van driver who is spared the navigation of Rye’s medieval streets. For the zero-hours contract driver, minutes saved could allow two more drops to be made and a sustainable living earned. On balance, I guess it is here to stay, regardless of all aesthetic objections. Like the wind-farm on Walland Marsh, might we learn to love it?

Image Credits: F Baldwin .


  1. Amazon is an arch tax avoider. The world’s biggest online retailer is generating huge revenues in the UK but paying very little corporation tax. It does this by funnelling money through its holding company in the notorious tax haven of Luxembourg. According to Ethical Consumer, Amazon performs very poorly on many ethical issues, including climate change, environmental reporting, habitats & resources, pollutions and toxics, arms & military supply, human rights, worker’s rights, supply chain management, irresponsible marketing, animal rights, animal testing, factory farming, use of controversial technologies, political activities, and anti-social finance. Amazon has no policy on living wage and make no mention of wages being enough to cover workers’ basic needs in their supplier code.
    That there is now this free advert for Amazon in the middle of Rye, without planning permission, is typical of its egregious behaviour. I would be interested to know why and how publicly owned Network Rail has agreed to this tawdry display.

  2. I fervently hope, Kenneth, that no one will have to ‘learn to love it’. This is the manifestation of the rapacious monster Amazon’s latest strategy to worm its way even further into national, and no doubt global, life. Exploiting a planning weakness which requires no planning permission for temporary (i.e. permanent because they will never be removed) structures. How long before these intrusive excrescences-cum-advertising hoardings are littering and disfiguring our urban and even rural space, wherever a landowner is keen to accept the bribe? Shopping centres! Railway stations! Universities! Thousands of locations! See “Want to host a Hub? Partner with us”’ at
    “Host an Amazon Hub: Locker
    • Automated, self-service kiosks where customers can pick-up or return their parcels.
    • A consistently strong customer service experience.
    • Thousands of locations, with partners ranging from shopping centres and train stations, to universities and corporate offices.”
    How long before other online retailers are placing their own ‘Hubs’ alongside? Is the government helpless to prevent the relentless march of Amazon or is it turning a blind eye or even in collusion in valuing economic interests above all other considerations?? Are we as citizens helpless in opposing this degradation of our surroundings? Some people may not care about this structure at Rye Station but more of them will be coming to places they may care about. George Eustice, Secretary of State for the Environment must be urged to intervene without delay to prevent this rape of the environment.

  3. Sadly the Rape of Rye started long ago,and its not just Amazon that are blighting our town, what about all the street clutter around the town, like signs like Burnhams that still adorn lampposts, even though the development was finished years ago, A frames on our roundabouts advertising junk, and boards strapped to posts advertising a certain pub in the town,and what do the powers to be do.NOTHING,to rid us of these eyesores.


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