A City To Be Proud Of

Tall Ships arriving at Gloucester Docks

Tall Ships arriving at Gloucester Docks

It’s been quite a summer in Gloucester. Just over a month ago we had the brilliant Rhythm & Blues Festival, which over its first weekend coincided with the Gloucester Carnival, the Quay’s Food Festival and the New Inn Open Day; then last weekend we had the wonderful Tall Ships Festival at Gloucester Docks.

The summer is now officially over, but Gloucester’s events aren’t: this weekend sees the start of Gloucester History week, which runs seamlessly into the Heritage Open Days the following weekend. Surely all of this activity must show Gloucester to be a really happening city and a place which we residents should justifiably be proud of.

I need say nothing more about the Rhythm & Blues Festival as I have already blogged its fulsome praise: a pub-led event and possibly my favourite week of the year. I have however been remiss in not mentioning the other events.

Gloucester Quay's Food Festival

Gloucester Quay's Food Festival

Much as I love food, the Food Festival is not such a likely place to find me, but I was there and it was great: a relaxed atmosphere with live music and, of course, a beer festival at Coots. There were also a couple of chefs that you could see perform, which kept the wife happy whilst I drank cider. And it was packed.

The New Inn open Day was a great event where people had the chance to see around the historic inn. A surprising number of people came through the tours over the course of the day, showing that there is an appetite both for history and a decent pub.

Carnival Float

Carnival Float

Despite the valiant efforts of those involved, the carnival did perhaps leave something to be desired: a shrinking number of actual floats and an ever-lengthening tail of god-botherers at the rear. Subsequently there were calls on the one hand to knock it on the head and put it out of its misery and, on the other hand, to redouble efforts and revitalise it.

I must admit that I am in the latter camp: I would love to see it revitalised to something like its former glory. I’d like to see the pubs involved here – Fever always has a float, but it would be good to see the more traditional pubs involved too – perhaps with a brewers dray. If nothing else it could be good additional publicity (if it were needed) for the Blues Festival.

And it would be good to see some of the bigger retailers involved, putting something back into the community. I don’t mean just advertising their latest sale, but really getting into the spirit of the thing. Wouldn’t it be nice to see Debenham’s, for example, taking on the role that their predecessor the Bon Marche apparently fulfilled back in the old days. And what about Tesco? They seem to be intent on taking over the city, at least they could stump up for a float.

And to those who say the carnival has had its day and no-one is interested any more, you obviously weren’t there: again the streets were packed with people out to enjoy the event.

Anyway, I digress…

Miscellaneous Vagabonds at Tall Ships

Miscellaneous Vagabonds at Tall Ships

This weekend’s Tall Ships festival was probably the highlight of the summer: five tall ships, a motley miscellany of pirates, sailors and vagabonds, weekend long entertainments and, again, that beer festival at Coots. What more could you want? Well, a bit more sun perhaps, but you can’t blame the organisers for that.

And guess what? This event was REALLY busy. I mean PACKED!

And so to the coming weekend. History week is based around Gloucester Day, which is actually on Monday 5 September and commemorates the end of the Siege of Gloucester, when the city successful stood against the king in 1643. It is a day that we Gloucesterians should proudly commemorate, so it is great that the tradition was revived a few years ago. This year the Gloucester Day Parade will take place on Saturday.

Another event taking place on Saturday is the official opening of the Gloucester City Museum, which has been closed throughout the summer for refurbishment – the plans looked very exciting, so well worth going for a look as well as joining in the events that are going on. The events include a series of talks in the museum itself, including <start of plug> a talk on ‘The Story of Gloucester through its Pubs’ by yours truly at 10:15 <end of plug>

And then, finally for now, the Heritage Open Days, another highlight of the calendar when loads of wonderful historic properties which are usually closed to the public are opened up to our prying eyes: and all for free! With Gloucester’s wealth of history there is always far too much to see and do, which in itself says great things about our city. This event also includes a series of guided walks, including <recommence plugging> ‘A Story of Gloucester’s Pubs’, again by yours truly, at 1400 on Saturday and Sunday <end of plug>.

I’m betting there aren’t many towns and cities across the country that can better that for a summer’s entertainment and with all of that to inspire us it never ceases to amaze me that Gloucester residents all too often remain negative about their city and pooh-pooh it’s history and achievements. It would never happen in Cheltenham or Stroud! Well, if they’re not happy after all of that they never will be, so I just wish they’d move and whinge about somewhere else!

Enjoy the weekend of heritage!

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About Darrel Kirby

I am what I am.
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6 Responses to A City To Be Proud Of

  1. janh1 says:

    You’re dead right about the old Bon Marche being one of the leading lights of the carnival procession. They always had the biggest, best float; it was worth turning out for that alone. As a kid, I was taken to the carnival most years and remember the time the Bon Marche float was a larger-than life silver elephant with trunk rampant – and they had to move power lines before they could get it out of Gloucester Park! 🙂

    Nice piece. Yes all those events do mark Gloucester out as special and the improvements in Southgate street look good but very sad to see all the empty city centre shops. Shopping is what will bring prosperity back.

  2. Darrel Kirby says:

    Would have loved to see the elephant!
    Agree empty shops are a big blow to the city centre, but events of this sort will hopefully make the city more attractive to the better retail outlets. Need something to get the city out of the negative spiral. A bit more pride and positivity from residents would help too – who would want to invest in somewhere that the locals are always slagging off.

  3. janh1 says:

    The improved M&S will make a bit of difference, if they would only get on with it!

    Chelters has all the festivals but Gloucester needs to fully exploit the docks and the fact that it has a *much* longer and more important history than Cheltenham. We had Parliament in Gloucester for goodnessake and long before that, it was an important Roman garrison.

    Imagine the marketing gold in a Glevum theme park – dress as centurion, load and shoot ballistas, make Roman shoes, eat in a Roman cafe, train as a gladiator..etc etc

    • Darrel Kirby says:

      Couldn’t agree more about the history – I think this week’s History and Heritage events are a great showcase for the city. Not sure about Disney-fying the whole thing though!

      Gloucester has so much history and yet residents constantly moan. Cheltenham residents are firecly proud of their Regency heritage – how do we get some of that pride to rub off?

  4. Pingback: City on the Up? « Darrel Kirby's Blog

  5. janh1 says:

    Good grief, no, 🙂 I wasn’t think of Disney so much as a kind of Asterix/Jorvik type experience. There’s big old piece of wasteland not far from the railway station which would be ideal.

    To be honest, and I work Chelt so meet a fair amount of locals, I think many of them take the town centre architecture completely for granted and don’t know a lot about the history. As long as they’ve got their parks and their shops – ranging from Primark to pricey little boutiques, they’re happy 🙂

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