June 2017: Civic Day
We marked Civic Day by the launch of an exhibition about the history and identity of the Lower High Street in the new art gallery, Chapel Arts, in Knapp Road, GL50 3QQ.
Over 140 people visited the gallery to view the exhibition and talk to those responsible for putting it together, staff from the Cheltenham West End Partnership (CWEP) and the History Department at the University of Gloucestershire.
A film of interviews with local residents was shown several times at The Frog & Fiddle in the Lower High Street. This was a great opportunity for the project leaders to meet new residents which will lead to further development of the project.
The exhibition runs from today until 30 June, except Mondays, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Entry is free.
June 2017: Shaping Cheltenham's Future
Freddie Gick speaking at the Pump Room
What sort of town do we want Cheltenham to be?
Our conference, ‘Shaping Cheltenham's Future', attracted over 40 participants to Pittville Pump Room on 9 June for a day of short presentations and discussions.
Organised by our Vice-Chair, Freddie Gick, the conference was to assist Cheltenham Borough Council flesh out its Place Strategy. Formerly Chair of Civic Voice (the national arm of the civic society movement) Freddie explained that
“Some towns have incredibly developed and detailed strategies. We believe that we could help the council develop some detail in its plans and ideas."
To this end, each person voted on his or her top priority that needs to be addressed to make Cheltenham a more thriving and prosperous town in 20 or 30 years’ time.
The top three were transport, public realm (the visual elements of a street) and housing. If these were vastly improved, many other important issues might be resolved, such as attracting and keeping national and local businesses, young graduates and tourists.
Within the eight priorities, each person was also able to have five votes from 21 sub-topics, e.g. improve the railway station, less street clutter, and more affordable housing for young professionals. Sounds complicated? Maybe, but it did lead us to agree on what our next focus will be, and some thoughts as to how it might be achieved.
June 2017: Tour of Cheltenham Racecourse
Member Claire Plowright with Gold Cup
Admiring the statue of Arkle,3 times Gold Cup winner
Members enjoyed a splendid tour of Cheltenham racecourse buildings not normally open to the public during their visit on 6 June.
The tour began with coffee and biscuits in the Hall of Fame where members admired the Gold Cup which was on display especially for us. Some members donned gloves and were photographed holding the cup.
It was fascinating to see the stables, weighing rooms and other areas including the excellent facilities at the impressive new Princess Royal Grandstand.
As the weather was kind to us, we were able to stroll on the racecourse itself and examine the fences. We were guided throughout by the excellent and extremely knowledgeable tour guides Rosemary Prosser and Karen Perry.
At the Winning Post
May 2017: From Sea to Spa:
The Life & Times of Henry Skillicorne
Henry Skillicorne is mostly known for his 595-word epitaph in St Mary’s Minster, detailing how he set Cheltenham on its feet as a spa town. But as James Hodsdon revealed in his talk on 9 May, his 25 years as genial overseer of the flourishing spa were really just a retirement job.
Henry had already spent 40 years as a Bristol-based mariner, trading the length of the Med on many occasions. Disease and misfortune robbed him of his first wife and children, but he was luckier with his second bride, Elizabeth Mason. She was the young heiress of William Mason, first exploiter of the Cheltenham purging waters.
Over several years, Skillicorne sorted out the indebted Mason estate, and rolled out Cheltenham’s very first ‘place strategy’ - making the spa and its walks a complete visitor attraction, not just somewhere for an expensive glass of water. Oh, and he’s credited with setting up Cheltenham’s first coffee shop. Truly a man for our times.
New Members Party
Parmoor House, Lypiatt Road
The Civic Society is an of offical consultee of Cheltenham Borough Council and through its Planning Forum offers comments on relevant planning applications.
The structure and remit of the Planning Forum is currently being reviewed to ensure that it fully respects the considered objectives of the society and its members.
Minutes of recent Planning Forum meetings can be seen here.