Martin Kirby on Gloucester's reputation
Reacting to a recent Guardian newspaper article which put Gloucester in a less-than favourable light, Alan Myatt, Gloucester's Town Crier, leapt to the city's defence.
Along with others, he insisted that Gloucester is great as a place to live and work. I agree, but it's no use pretending that everything's perfect.
I remember when it was so much better than it is now and it's easy to see where the problems lie.
Easy, that is, if you don't go around wearing the proverbial pink-tints. For a start, we should be proud of the fact that, even with people from all over the world, with different cultures and languages settling here, Gloucester has never had any of the serious racial tension that blights other cities.
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We also have a fantastic history dating back to Roman times, although much of it was destroyed by 1970s 'improvements' and what remains, is mostly hidden from sight.
Gloucester Docks offered a fantastic opportunity for tourism if we had capitalised on its buildings and historic importance instead of letting it become a housing estate.
The Quays is lauded as a shopping mecca within the Docks but when you peer through the hype, it isn't actually in the docks at all. It occupies the site where Fielding and Platt used to be.
Something that IS in Gloucester Docks and rarely appreciated is Tommi Nielsen's yard. It's a business that puts this city firmly at the top of the premier league in terms of traditional skills, yet many people, have never heard of it.
Mr Nielsen is a Danish-born boat builder who, along with Sarah White, set up shop in the Docks 25 years ago. The yard is currently engaged in two major projects, one being a total refit of the Kaskelot, a three-masted Barque which was last in Gloucester during filming for the movie Amazing Grace. With literally the whole world to choose from, the ship's owners brought her here because Gloucester Docks, has skills and experience that cannot be found anywhere else.
Sadly, for every good point, there is a bad one. After much tough talk about its removal, the ugly, useless, former Golden Egg building still looms over a dismal, empty, pathetic-looking King's Square. The building seems to have the survival capabilities of a cockroach. There's also the 'nightmare on Northgate Street' – the eyesore that used to be Kwik Save – and that grim hole in the ground, once destined to be the Blackfriars shopping centre.
Yes, Gloucester is great and we can make it even greater if we are realistic. I'd rather see smaller plans become reality than wait forever for impossible dreams.