Gloucester Safer Than Cheltenham

There is a strange but well-known rivalry between Cheltenham and Gloucester. Cheltonians tend to consider themselves more sophisticated and posher than their Gloucester neighbours and, in their turn, Gloucestrians tend to look upon their Cheltenham neighbours as a bit too snooty for their own good.

This was something that I noticed immediately that I started working in Cheltenham, too many years ago to mention. I hadn’t really had a great deal to do with Cheltenham up until this point and it came as something of a shock. And from the beginning I wasn’t convinced that the Cheltenham air of superiority was warranted.

One thing that I found odd was that Cheltonians on the one hand decried Gloucester as far too rough, and on the other hand revelled in tales of the Cheltenham ‘families’. These were spoken of in awed tones, as if they were the Krays. Everyone knew them and loved to recount tales of their lawlessness and violence. Weird; I wasn’t aware that we had such families in ‘rough’ Gloucester.

On the face of it, though, Cheltenham is posher. It still benefits from its Victorian reputation as a spa town and an influx of posh Cotswold types. It also has students from the University, which imbue it with a certain vibrancy in term time. As a consequence it has a wider range of up-market shops.

By contrast, Gloucester’s history is much more based around industry. It also has the Gloucester College, which perhaps attracts less high-brow students. Although there is a campus of the University at Oxstalls it houses the Faculty of Sport, Health and Social Care, which gives a different mix of people from the Business School in Cheltenham. On the other hand, Gloucester has a Cathedral, which should provide some cachet.

However, if you discount Cheltenham’s upper-most strata of (mostly imported) posh people and the students, what you are left with is a population not dissimilar to that of Gloucester, which is what you would expect as the towns are only separated by around 10 miles.

It was with some satisfaction, therefore, that I read in the Citizen last week (25 May) that the owner of the Bridal Shop described Gloucester as safer and more prosperous than Cheltenham. He runs a shop in Gloucester and recently opened one in Cheltenham only to have it vandalised and found it less profitable.

Of course this is just an isolated incident and is in no way statistically valid as a comparison of the two towns, but nonetheless it is nice to see Gloucester coming out on top for a change. I just hope that there aren’t any Gloucester idiots out there that will see this as a challenge!


About Darrel Kirby

I am what I am.
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2 Responses to Gloucester Safer Than Cheltenham

  1. janh1 says:

    I have to say, Darrel that the owner of the Bridal Shop in Gloucester is largely talking cobblers. Gloucester isn’t much safer than Cheltenham and is definitely not more prosperous.

    Cheltenham’s night life and restaurants still continue, for the most part , to be seemingly unaffected by the recession. Cheltenham’s economy is buoyed by by the civil servants at GCHQ and some major companies although Kraft has now gone.

    Gloucester is marginally safer than Cheltenham, yes, but only on the basis that there have been less random murders of strangers in Gloucester than in Cheltenham.

    Gloucester is still the poor relation and has been for decades now in spite of it’s long, rich history going back to the Romans, the wonderful Cathedral – flying buttresses and all – and a well-supported nationally-renowned rugby club. Gloucester’s Roman remains make the leafy Regency crescents of Chelters look positively modern.

    It’s a crying shame that Gloucester’s history counts for not much these days. The fact is that Cheltenham would still be a load of hovels with a stream running down the middle of the high street if it wasn’t for those pigeons seen pecking at the spa water springs!

    At its height as a Regency spa town, Chelters was the top destination in the country for the aristocracy when Bath became far too middle-class for them. They moved on to Europe when the middle-classes flocked to Chelters but Cheltenham’s beautifully designed Montpellier and Lansdown estates were already established by then and its future was assured.

    Cheltenham will always be posh; it has the Cheltenham Boys’ College, the Cheltenham Ladies’ College and Dean Close School plus a first class grammar school.

    Gloucester can’t compete with that but with some vision and imagination from the movers and shakers, I have every hope that its image can be renovated and restored to its deserved status as historical City and a noteworth centre of the very beautiful county of Gloucestershire.

    Here endeth the rant. 🙂

  2. Darrel Kirby says:

    I don’t necessarily disagree with any of that, but if you walk down Cheltenham High Street in the day time you will notice that it is looking quite shabby. If you venture down the Lower High Street it is more so. If you venture down the High Street at night it is much more rowdy and threatening than Gloucester (with the exception of perhaps Eastgate St). On my many pub crawls in the name of research I was frequently joined by Cheltenham friends who were pleasantly surprised by Gloucester and several commented that the atmosphere was better. There is a lot of image to get past, but once you see past that they aren’t so different – and Gloucester is on the up.

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