Sunday, 4 September 2011

The Firstsite Visual Arts Facility

Well! I received an invitation to attend the awards ceremony of Colchester in Bloom at our new arts building yesterday. I have been watching the building's progress over the past years and listening to and reading the comments being made about it from the usual suspects, who ceaselessly whine about things generally. What a waste of money, money could be better spent, what about our bus station, etc. etc. sort of thing. Well! Now we have our new arts building. It is an incredible building and, although I have only seen it in its almost-ready state, I was very impressed and very optimistic about its future. The auditorium especially is superb and I hope, one day, to give one of my talks there. So I will come clean and admit that I opposed the design of the building from the outset. I wanted a Roman temple styled building for Colchester. This is anything but that. I shall now watch with interest how it fares and to learn whether one Andy Hamilton ever sets foot inside the place.

Saturday, 3 September 2011


As somebody who offered several thousand pounds to the Balkerne Tower Trust towards acquiring Jumbo, a few years ago, I feel I have a say in this matter. From memory the trust only raised around £20k towards the purchase, when Mr Braithwaite bought it for over £330k. The trust's campaign was a total failure and reflected the lack of interest of the majority of Colcestrians in public ownership. Those that now whine about making it a tourist attraction must be delusional. To do so would need the money to be raised to buy it from the owner - were he willing to sell it - and the wherewitall to run it at an inevitable loss. So where would that money come from then? I am fed up with the council's procrastination over this matter. I wish Mr Braithwaite every success with his plans and look forward to Jumbo being once again a landmark that we can all be proud of. At the moment it is a decaying eyesore. It will never be a water tower again. Indeed, was it ever used as such to its full capacity? The latest plans for its conversion are sympathetic to the building, as those that converted Berechurch church were. Where was the outcry about that I wonder? The basic structure will not be affected to any major degree (apart from some glazing replacing some of the tank shell). The Victorian structure will always be on view. For heaven's sake, let's get Colchester into the 21st century and kick these whining nimby dinosaurs, who oppose anybody with a bit of modern vision, Buntings, the VAF, etc. for example, into this century.