Saturday, November 17, 2012
Colchester... slowly decaying
I swapped awful Chelmsford for Colchester, which had character. In the past twenty years, that character has been steadily whittled away. The Saturday market that used to run in the High Street that runs through the centre of town was destroyed when it was moved to an off-the-beaten-track car park. The guy I used to buy videos from gave up and went back to driving a cab because it paid better. The market died. Now we have a few stands selling veg. and one of those sellers of old, back-issue magazines and kid's colouring books, a few clothes sellers lined up along a through-road and threaded through the shopping centre on a Friday and Saturday.
I used to buy my CDs at Andy's Records, an independent store that carried even obscure bands like The Enid. They went out of business when Virgin opened up. Eventually, Virgin also disappeared, leaving us with an HMV in the town centre... and they're not exactly thriving. We used to have a Menzies as well as a W. H. Smiths. No more Menzies. We had two major bookshops where we now only have one.
And today they closed down the bus station. The bus station was located not far from the end of the High Street, close to Colchester's main attraction, the Castle. Quite a few years ago, it was announced that the bus station was being moved out of the way. Further away from the High Street, from the Castle, from the shopping centre...
The bus station was always going to get the chop when they announced the building of a Visual Arts Centre. Which nobody wanted. The bus station was supposed to move to St. Botolphs. But then they announced that the St. Botolphs site was to be redeveloped as a magistrates' court. So the bus station has become – at a cost of £2 million – a row of stops alongside a car park and Bingo Hall. Let's not forget the "secure, covered and well-lit passenger waiting area" which, as of this morning, didn't look secure, covered or well-lit.
We will survive. We survived the farcical one-way system which cost (if memory serves) three-quarters of a million to fix. We survived the late opening of the Visual Arts Centre, which sat unfinished for over a year while they argued about its cost, eventually stumping up another £9 million to get it open. Mel's review of the contents of this £25.5 million white elephant: "Meh!"
The perfect(ly awful) end to a perfect(ly awful) trip into town.