Saturday, September 16, 2006

Ugly Hereford 2 | The Cattle Market

I remember Wednesdays throughout half term when I was at primary school. My mum often used to take me to Hereford Cattle Market. Every Wednesday farmers from the surrounding country bring their livestock for sale. In my youth you were permitted to wander freely amongst the animals patting the piggies and avoiding the patting from the cows.

A few years ago while babysitting I decided to relive my youth and take a colleague’s daughter to see the barnyard animals. What I found was akin to a fortress. Post 2001 foot & mouth fears ensured that all gates were locked and guarded while you couldn’t get within 100m of any livestock.

The cattle market has never quite recovered from foot & mouth. Nowhere near as many animals seem to reside in the pens on Wednesday mornings.

But is it time to move on? Now the cattle market is a scruffy blot on the town centre landscape. Aging, unappealing buildings and peeling paint greet any tourists travelling into the city from the A49 or ring road. Smashed windows, graffiti and cracked concrete not to mention the foreboding air the market takes on at night.

The problem with most Herefordian’s is that they are stuck in the past. They think moving this ugly utility to the outskirts of the town would betray the city’s market town history. If anything I’d say the opposite. By building brand new market facilities we’d be celebrating that history and renewing it while freeing up a considerable amount of land in the centre of Hereford for prime retail, leisure and parking thus ensuring the city has a future.

It’s because of these people living in the 20th century that we’re losing those that should be taking Hereford into the 21st. Most of my friends have moved away from the city labelling it dull, jobless and lacking entertainment. This isn’t something unique to my friends. All most all 20somethings voice desires to head to Cardiff, Cheltenham, Birmingham or London. Away from Hereford.

The market currently symbolises that old school V youth struggle perfectly and it’s what happens to it that ultimately will decide what direction Hereford’s development will take…

Friday, September 08, 2006


It was on this day, 40 years ago, that man first boldly went where many more would eventually go.

On September 8th 1966 Captain Kirk recorded his first ever Captain’s Log, and did battle with his first alien – the salt vampire on planet M-113. Star Trek means a lot to me, the show has been diluted over the years thanks to it’s many sequel series, some great – some weak; but the original is still as glorious today as it was in 1966.

It was the first time SF had really been treated intelligently by television. It embraced topical stories and commented on society of the time by transposing the issues to the future. The Klingons were the Russians, constantly breathing down the Federations throat in an inter-stellar cold war.

Star Trek also embraced multi-culture by showing humans not only getting along with alien races – but more importantly, getting along with each other. It’s a shame that the message Star Trek carries hasn’t been embraced in real life. 40 years later we’re still fighting, still squabbling, if anything worse so than in 1966.

The show was also one of the first television shows to really enter the public consciousness. Transporters, phasers, warp drives, Vulcans, Romulans and communicators have all become part of pop culture lingo in a way that only Doctor Who’s TARDIS and Star Wars’ light sabres can rival.

In 2008 Star Trek will return to cinemas in a brand new adventure featuring a brand new Captain Kirk. I for one can’t wait to return to that original crew and original Enterprise – no A’s, no B’s and definitely no bloody D’s.

So to the Shat, Nimoy, Nichols, Koenig, Takei, Barret, the late and much loved Kelley & Doohan not to mention the great bird himself Gene – happy birthday. Thanks for the adventure let’s hope it’s really just beginning.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Ugly Hereford | High Town

On February 7th Herefordshire council announced it would be transforming Hereford High Town with a total face lift. This followed the successful refurbishment of Eign Gate. I’ve written about Eign Gate’s refurbishment before. It genuinely made the area look much, much better and more stylish but the cramped conditions throughout the re-paving 12 months ago led to many small businesses closing down.

I’m still weary of going into town centre. It is an assault course through Hereford now thanks to all the safety fences lining the works and caterpillar trucks weaving through the crowds. Now though they’re at the half-way phase. 50% of the works have been revealed to the public and I can excitingly tell you that the new look Hereford High Town is…

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… a stinking pile of shit. It looks awful. The new stonework is a terrible light grey colour that just doesn’t seem to gel with the area like the reddish paving of old. In places the old paving remains albeit relayed in order to make the new surface look arty. It doesn’t, it looks scruffy. There are about 7 different styles of paving within 100ft and it looks an utter mish-mashing, clashing mess.

The new paving also seems to be tarnishing very quickly. It’s been in use barely a month and already there are stains a plenty. The worst aspect of the works is that there are no kerbs where a main road runs through the centre of town. So in peak times when this road is in use I’m concerned that the less visually able might well stumble into the path of an oncoming double-decker bus not realising where the pavement ends.

It seems that the designers just haven’t considered Hereford’s image. Why couldn’t a stylish brickwork be used throughout the whole of the town centre like Eign Gate where it really works? Why the half-dozen different styles? Why hasn’t the site of the old Market Hall been marked like the old paving respectfully used to? Also, why, if the scheme was about removing the ‘clutter’ is there now more crap filling up the centre of town in the shape of an unneeded coffee bar and juice bar when Hereford has had 5 new coffee houses opening in the last 2 years?

Hereford councillors you should be ashamed of yourselves. High Town is now ugly. But it’s not the only part of Hereford that’s suffering these days… I will reveal more soon.