Last week the Citizen reported that Gloucester nightlife was dealt a blow by the closure of two nightclubs in Eastgate Street.
The nightclubs in question were TNT and Liberty’s and, like most of the venues in Eastgate Street, both are sort of nightclubs, sort of pubs – close enough to pubs for me to include them in my book, The Story Of Gloucester’s Pubs (well, TNT anyway, Liberty’s wasn’t yet open then).
As these were kind of pubs, you may expect me to be saddened by their closure, but I’m not so sure.
These pubs are typical of the ‘Eastgate Strip’: the throbbing heart of Gloucester’s nightlife, appealing to young drinkers. They don’t appeal to me and aren’t aimed at me, but this is not why I don’t mourn their passing.
These types of pub have their place and they are good at what they do – especially TNT, which I think was one of the better venues in Eastgate Street.
The trouble though, as I have said before, is that all of these types of pubs exist in the same part of the city – and all of the pubs in that part of the city have the same offering.
The result of this is:
- Eastgate Street sees more than its share of trouble as all of the young, riotous drunken behaviour happens in the same small area.
- Young people on a night out have a lack of variety. Reports suggest that Gloucester is seriously losing the battle for the night-time economy with Cheltenham as a result.
- The rest of Gloucester suffers as most of the lively nightlife happens in Eastgate Street, which is remote from the rest of the city’s pubs with upper Eastgate Street acting as the night-time economy equivalent of a demilitarised zone.
So, although I mourn the loss of any pub – not least because of the people who lose their jobs as a result – in the long term this may be a good thing.
If Eastgate Street loses its stranglehold on the city’s nightlife, perhaps the people who drink there will try some of Gloucester’s other pubs, and perhaps a nightclub-type bar could open somewhere else in the city, allowing for a more varied and lively city centre.
The key to making this work, however, is to connect the existing successful clubs in Eastgate Street with the rest of the city centre and I see no quick fix to that problem. In the meanwhile we risk haemorrhaging even more custom to Cheltenham.