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Tumbleweeds and Ghosts

24 Oct
Tumbleweed

Across the past few weeks I have been out and about to various places, some afar some not so, but Wednesday my Big Sis and I ventured into our local town.  We tried to remember the last time we went in but could not think back beyond July, so months it would seem.

Parking in our usual car park that always seems to be 3/4 full we took a walk through the Victoria Arcade, which has long been suffering from lack of shops, with at least 2/3rds empty, even with the incentive of months of free rent and months of half rent by twelve months they are gone and the austere dark windows return.  The bright light is the awesome breakfast at the tiny Pop-In Cafe which fortifies us for the remainder of the day.

Leaving the Arcade we turn towards the Market Place and immediately there are four double fronted shops in a row, now empty and boarded up, across the road is another double fronted shop that has been empty for at least three if not more years.  It stands next to the two-storey Marks & Spencer store which will be shutting soon, the food outlet is moving to an out-of-town retail park and the clothing/gifts etc is just closing altogether.  Such a sense of forlornness.

Around the pedestrianised Market Place the quay side banks have recently relocated into empty stores, Barclays, HSBC have joined Nationwide, Halifax, Santander, N&P, and Lloyds has double its size expanding into what once was Burtons.  No doubt before too long Nat West might consider relocating their forgotten branch more where the action is.  Across the other side the four storey building that was once a thriving Co-Op store is empty, rumours of it becoming an academy, rumours of it becoming flats.  Like other buildings in town, it will be bought by a developer who will do nothing until the building is condemned to be torn down and prime land is either sold or built upon.

Further along the Market Place there are shops with windows caked in dust, the paint flaking from weathered doors, and everywhere the detritus of leaves and litter whirl along as tumbleweeds.

The people look tired, worn down and grey, so many with walking sticks, frames and scooters, so many with prams and pushchairs.  The occasionally suited individual stride towards a cash machine or heads towards the shopping centre for Starbucks or Costa lunches.

The whole town is economically deprived and severely suffering for it, there is a huge heavy sense of depression, hardship and poverty.

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8 Comments

Posted by on October 24, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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8 responses to “Tumbleweeds and Ghosts

  1. Bushka

    October 24, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    How very sad, Ann! You describe the ‘forlorness’ so well. Not much to inspire in the Town Centre. 🙄 BIG HUGS! xxx

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    • amgroves

      October 25, 2014 at 11:49 am

      It is quite a large town really, with several disjointed areas, each with its emptiness and sense of abandonment – as things are, I do not see what can be done to entice people and business back to these areas.

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  2. gillyk

    October 24, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    I always find the towns where so many shops are boarded up depressing. A number of our shops here are the same. Time for some imaginative rethinking, perhaps, although it’s not as easy as that.

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    • amgroves

      October 25, 2014 at 11:51 am

      Yes, the answer is not showing – there is so much unemployment, low wage jobs, poverty, in a town with areas all suffering. Going to take a long time, if ever, to bounce back.

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  3. foxhat

    October 24, 2014 at 6:54 pm

    Odd you should say that

    I am trying to get some of the empty shops opened as pop-up galleries/shops for young artists. There are advantages to the shop owners too.

    I do think we need to have a complete re-think about our town centres and the current model based on long leases at high rents to big companies. Hopefully we can bring back a bit of community and local difference to our towns and cities

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    • amgroves

      October 25, 2014 at 11:52 am

      In the Arcade I mentioned there is a gallery, not sure whether it is a consortium of artists or run as a co-op, but even that has halved its space 😦

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  4. Kim

    October 24, 2014 at 7:25 pm

    That’s very sad and depressing. Not so much the economic situation but the hopelessness you describe in the people there. Does no one smile in gratitude for being well enough to ramble around at loose ends? Does no one enjoy the clean air and crisp autumn weather, the colour of the leaves, the amazing quality of life we all take for granted, when so many other places in the world are war torn or barren? There are thousands of things we can be grateful for every day. We will lead happier lives if we try to see the good things that are everywhere around us and appreciate and enjoy them. x

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    • amgroves

      October 25, 2014 at 11:55 am

      Most of the people you see are worn down by their own daily struggles with health, with housing, with finances etc.

      During the summer it had a better vibrancy, more holiday makers and activity and sense of smile, but now that the winter is approaching, everything is turning into grey-scale. It is quite a physical sensation.

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