Thursday 1 July 2010

A town I'm not going to miss

A few years ago when a book called Crap Towns: the 50 Worst Places to Live in the UK was published I'm not sure if the closest city to us ever featured in it. Probably not since the book was very much tongue in cheek whereas the town we live outside of is truly crap. During the last twenty years or so no notable improvements have been made to it. I feel a little like the angry woman from Bolton who told David Cameron during the election campaign that his Tory party council had ruined the town.

Though, as far as I can see, 'our' town has always been awful. Plans for a cinema have been just that - plans - for the best part of 30 years.

The only building work going on is for supermarkets; the 'new' shopping centre, ten-year-old Shires (or as it's known in our household, 'The Shiters') has Asda as its star turn. The M&S Only Food lasted less than a year. Now there seem to be more shops empty than occupied.

The town itself is littered with unfinished and dilapidated buildings.

The 'River Walk' isn't so inviting with supermarket trollies and rubbish lying in the water. I've never taken the children there and am sure it would not be healthy, or safe.

The town park is a dull carpet of lawn with dying flower beds. Perhaps the council either has no money to spend on it or just doesn't care. The sign on the Tourist Bureau is faded and its painting chipped.

If Mary Queen of Shops came to this town she'd swiftly turn on her heels having decided not one local shop would survive here.

Yet, the town is flanked by well-to-do villages. It's close to Bath and Bradford-on-Avon, both desirable addresses in the UK (Although Bath did feature in the 50 Crap Places to Live in, but for other reasons, if I'd take a guess). Our town used to be a beautiful mill town with an industrial heritage from the Victorians any town would be proud of. But the civic authorities didn't like the old buildings. In the seventies several beautiful mills were pulled down to make way to the ugliest multi storey car parks, shopping centres and low-slung concrete office buildings you can imagine.

Since we've lived here the various councils have tried to develop the city, but all they've managed is to put up mock toy town structures, strange towers (the Millennium project below) and those endless supermarkets.

I've written many posts recently about the things I'm going to miss in London. Not having to go into this town (which shall remain nameless) I'm going to positively relish.


Julie Sardinetin said...

Ha ha, I know where this is - have driven through a couple of times, but confess I have never had the urge to stop... I do think the so-called town planners of the 60s and 70s (come to think of it, even modern ones) have a lot to answer for in their quest for modernity. Where I live is just as bad, and I think there are very few towns that have survived totally unscathed, which is a real shame.

Anonymous said...

The Rive Walk. What a nice view. I just wonder what happened to the poor shopper? Fed to the crocs...??


Wildernesschic said...

Helena I have been thinking of you lately with some envy .. sometimes I miss being in the hub of it all too.... But I am obviously still not ready for it, as when I got home last night to my peaceful hamlet I could exhale and have decided I love to visit the city and my friends but love to live here xx
But that town looks sad and neglected .. its a shame wherever it is

Unknown said...

Julie, I agree the town planners should be shot - ok perhaps not shot...

Daniel, LOL xx

Ruth, I used to feel exactly like you when the children were school age. Although this move is not entirely voluntary, it's something we've been talking about a lot through the years. So let's see how it really is to live in London full-time. I'll keep you posted. xx

Mr London Street said...

On the plus side, it's not Swindon.

Unknown said...

Mr London Street, how right you are...I do however think the same town planners must have worked in both places. xx

Rose said...

oh dear yes- I like to try and see the positive in architecture but sometimes there just isn't any. Likewise there is nothing positive when towns become dependent on this out of town horrors based around supermarkets. It makes me very sad and GRUMPY. Surely Bath couldn't ever be in crap towns? it's so beautiful (except admittedly for it's own ramshackle car park area which is foul)

nerines said...

I have very strong feelings towards town planners also. One enormous sickly yellow building in particular springs to mind because I pass by it so frequently and it sits so grotesquely near our beautiful waterfront. It's a testament to what can be the ugliness and blandness of the modern brick, perhaps forgivable when it's found in the burbs where there can be seen clusters of it in it's many other coloured variations, but please as a giant boxy monolith? With no less the later addition of a massive poorly constructed tuna tin, used for orchestral concerts etc. I say poorly constructed because it's been put together with large square panels and all the stuffing (some sort of batting to keep it sound proof) is now oozing out...I almost hope this was an intentional thing to make the building appear more interesting. I'll stop, gawd sorry I've ranted so.

Francesca said...

Tee Hee. Was talking about this very town last night in EXACTLY the same way so you are not alone.

North West London Girl said...

The town planners should be ashamed of themselves, where are they spending the money one wonders?? London beckons for you xx