Beeston Bounces Back

by Aeden J Slater

I’ve lived in Beeston for all my life, and over the years I’ve seen many changes, big and small, but never as much as the last year or so. Where so many businesses have struggled under the pressures of the lockdowns, and highstreets in places like Arnold and Long Eaton have withered away, Beeston has been thriving in spite of the circumstances.

We’ve seen many welcome additions to the town centre, the most obvious one being The Arc Cinema, which opened back at the end of May. After a couple of visits, I still stand firmly by my recommendation that you check it out as soon as possible! Another fantastic addition has been the new Turkish restaurant, Anatolia, which I could recommend on its excellent service alone, but the food is pretty good too. Just across the street is the newest branch of The Pudding Pantry, a coffee shop and dessert restaurant, and while I haven’t managed to pop along myself, I have it on good authority that it’s another great inclusion to our high street.

It doesn’t end there however – there’s way more coming to the town over the next few months. One of Nottingham’s best success stories – or as you might know them, Doughnotts – is upgrading from a market stall to a whole new store. Speaking of, there are plans for one of the units under the cinema to be filled by a new bar called “The Beeston Social”, the latest in a chain of indie bars from Fletcher Gate Industries, who run popular joints in the City Centre such as Das Kino and The Hockley Arts Club. Another chain making its presence in the town is Ohannes Burgers, and on top of that pastry giant Greggs is opening its second branch on Queen’s Road later this year, with plans for an indoor and outdoor seating area too.

Although the new additions have been, and surely will be fantastic, another great boon for the existing businesses in Beeston will be the easing of lockdown measures. Safety is of course paramount in times like these, but I’m sure that many locations are breathing a sigh of relief now they have the freedom to deliver a safe yet improved service to their customers. One change among many that I don’t think will be going away will be the increased use of outdoor dining. Originally envisioned as a way of slowing the spread of Covid-19, I think having people out in the fresh air, especially on hot summer nights like these, has brought a revitalised feeling to Beeston’s high street. Dare I say it even makes the town seem a little sophisticated with all our favourite places going al fresco.

I can’t pretend it’s not great to see that Beeston is looking better than ever despite the trying times we’ve all been through over the past year and a half, and like many of you I’m glad to be getting out and enjoying what’s here. Whether it’s our longstanding local businesses, favourite new additions, or most anticipated openings, Beeston is putting itself on the map in a big way.

AJS

A Bit of a Blur

Spring 2010 and experimental band Gorillaz were trundling down the motorway promoting their
newly-released album Plastic Beach. Pop-star tummies began rumbling when the junctions hit
the twenties. The Sat Nav was consulted, some tour-bus googling was conducted and the
perfect place was found. A short drive from the motorway, good nosh, good drinks and a
genuine, family-run free house with the type of reviews most bands would eat a drum kit for.

They pulled off the M1, and headed for the legendary Victoria, in some suburb called ‘Beeston’.
“I’m a chicken, and I’m having a ball” I was singing as I walked down the corridor of the Vic, at
exactly the same time the band walked in. Not the most sophisticated of songs, admittedly, but I
was only five, and was pretty proud of my effort. It was Easter, after all. As I serenaded anyone
passing in the pub, I saw some interesting men get repeatedly asked to sign things -2010 still
pretty much the pre-selfie era – and was intrigued.

One man with shaggy sandy blonde hair noticed me singing, smiled, and approached. And
that’s how I ended up duetting with a man who had Brit, Ivor Novello, Mercury and numerous
other awards under his belt. Damon Albarn and I performed, for the patrons of the Vic, my
freshly composed song.

My grandad, Neil Kelso, is well known and much missed by many Beestonians. He transformed
the Vic into Beeston’s standard-setting pub, with much work put in to give our town a pub that is
never short of quality and atmosphere. And, that day, rock stars.

The five year old me probably didn’t much know a great deal about Gorillaz, Blur or the Clash, so when I saw one of the members of the band – probably Mick Jones, founder member of The Clash – at a table I told Damon he looked like Blakey off On The Buses.

This tickled Damon immensely – not just the fact I’d made that comparison to a punk god, but that I even knew who Blakey was ‘I watch it when I have tea with my step-dad’. The whole band thought this hilarious, and a smiling Damon crouched down, scooped me onto his shoulders, and posed for a photo.

If Damon ever gets to read this, then I’m more than happy for you to use ‘I’m a chicken, I’m
having a ball’ in your next live set.

JM

Shop Fronts

We love links to the past Beeston, and in recent times a bit of refurbishing work has seen a couple of old shopfronts revealed from the days of typewriters, black and white TVs and rickets. Bizzy Kids on Queens Road was once home to an early DIY store, whilst on the High Road what is due to become Yellow Wood café was evidently a shop that sold Golden Meadow Butter.

There are probably loads more of these in Beeston currently buried behind modern frontages, but if any are spotted then we’ll do our best to include them in here.

JC

Gossip from the Hivemind

Once again, some dolt expresses a wish for Beeston to ‘emulate West Bridgford’, presumably meaning we’ll lose all our character and be nothing but a dormitory town on the outskirts of a city, rather than a vibrant place with its own identity and character. The dolt in question is erstwhile used-car salesman Cllr. Richard Jackson, the boss of Broxtowe Borough Council and a man not exactly blessed with much of an imagination.

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It’s almost like he doesn’t really care about Beeston, or indeed Broxtowe. Like he once voted to abolish the very council he runs. Nice to see you care, chief.

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While that vote failed, it hasn’t stopped Wacko Jacko from his quest to destroy the council: rumours suggest that morale is at a snail’s belly low at the council, as a huge falling out rages through the council. And is it true a secret committee has been formed to investigate another secret committee, all at huge cost to council tax payers? Watch this space…

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As the council infighting rages, it’s up to Beestonians to imagine the future of the town, and where better to look than our sister Facebook Page Beeston Updated? As the 11,000 members of the site well know, public toilets and shoe shops seem to occasionally dominate the conversation. Or rather, the lack of them. So here’s an idea. Why not combine the two into one handy place? Shoe and Poo anyone?

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Props to our columnist Scott Bennett, who when not penning pithiness for this rag is a professional stand-up comedian, and recently was roped in to support Rob Brydon on his tour. As Brydon is his comic hero, Scott was delighted, and took along an autographed copy of Brydon’s memoir, which the craggy Welsh funster signed a few days before Scott did his first ever gig. This happened. Our hearts and cockles are duly warmed.

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If you haven’t heard the podcast that Scott does with three other contributors to The Beestonian, then you really should. It’s so funny it could turn Droopy into a hyena. You’ll find it by going to http://www.scottbennettcomedy.co.uk/podcast.html . But grab a girdle first. Your sides aren’t safe from splitting.

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Beeston Highlights of 2017

We asked the users of Beeston Updated what their Beeston highlights of 2017 were:

“The highlight for me are the collection of 2017 highlights produced by this group.” – John M

“This was our first proper summer living in Beeston and the Beeston beach was a highlight for my boys! They loved it…in fact my little boy still points to the area and tells/signs to me it’s ‘gone’.” – Laura L

“The reopening of Beeston library. Fantastic job. All should use it.” – Jackie S

“The Awesome wrestling shows that happen at the Shed every month. Pushing 400 people every month now and they are CRAZY!!! :)” – Paul G

“Last Tuesday, I had a really good boiled egg.” – John C

“Oxjam, and Bartons putting events on again.” – Sophie O

“Totally Tapped opening!” – Louise S

“The bringing of our Community together at this year’s 12th BEESTON CARNIVAL. Big thanks to all that make this annual event possible! XX” – Lynda L

“The Proms in the Park fireworks bang outside our kitchen balcony were a pure joy moment for me. And the Canal Heritage Centre. I love the restoration and new life of an old building, the great community spirit surrounding it, the sense of history…” – Sarah G

 

Let’s Go To Beeston – Again!

 

Most Beestonian’s will recognise the logo for ‘Let’s Go to Beeston’ which was previously part of the Beeston BID campaign, and ran from 2010 – 2015. The management of the website is now being taken over by Beeston Community Resource (BCR) which manages Middle Street Resource Centre.

The handover officially took place at the resource centre on October 5, and the Let’s Go to Beeston site and related social media are all in the very capable hands of a group of volunteers at Middle Street.

LGTB used to receive funding but is now a charitable free service and is supported by Voluntary Action Beeston and Citizen’s Advice Bureau. Previously, the focus was very much on the centre of Beeston but now they are keen to involve the wider community, especially with the recently opened Canalside Heritage Centre in Beeston Rylands.

The new partnership is ideal, and is providing  not only the volunteers with something to put their skills to good use, but also to raise the profile of LGTB again and further benefit Beeston as a town and as a community.

There are over 70+ volunteers at Middle Street, which began life as a Nottinghamshire County Council Day Centre for people affected by mental health issues. Today, the centre is still supportive of people with mental health issues, and a lot of the volunteers have experienced and still experience such issues as part of their everyday lives.

By teaming up with Let’s Go to Beeston, it gives the volunteers the opportunity to put their skills into practice and give them something to work on which benefits them and the community of Beeston. As the management is mainly web and social media based, those with IT skills such as Karen will be able to contribute plenty to the online presence.

Karen spoke at the launch about the relationship between mental health and the online world, particularly the impacts of social media. She pointed out that adults who don’t use the internet can become socially excluded, so becoming familiar with IT is important for communication. Despite the negativity that can arise from being on social media, she emphasises that “it’s about how human beings use [IT and social media].”

Karen will be part of the admin team for the website, and will work to “develop friendlier, kinder social media” as well as making sure that the website becomes a resource that is “run by the community for the community.”

Colin, another volunteer, has been supporting Middle Street for 2 years now. “It’s a fantastic space for people to come, talk, get support and learn,” he says. “I’m really passionate about Beeston.” He is currently studying computing and system development which has come in handy while working on the Let’s Go to Beeston website and he hopes that it will “help people see all the good things that are going on and showcase the very best of Beeston.”

Although the website is still a work in progress, there are already plenty of resources on there such as a community section, Beeston News and a business directory which needs the help of local people to keep it up to date as new businesses come into the town, and others leave. This community input is something that the team are keen to incorporate. Colin calls for local photographers to send in their photos of Beeston to contribute to the website and celebrate Beeston in the most visual way possible. As well as this, he wants residents to let them know what your Beeston news is, and if you’ve got an event there will soon be a dedicated events calendar so people know what’s going on.

Linda Lally was also in attendance at the launch, and says: “My knowledge of Beeston and Let’s Go to Beeston comes from previous involvement. When Steph [Marketing Manager at NET] came to see us there was a good opportunity for Middle Street, for people, and volunteers. I will use my expertise to engage with volunteers to give them confidence and self-esteem.”

There are also a few other developments arising from the re-launch of the website, which wants to take advantage of the 40,000 people who continued to engage with the site last year. The website and its ethos is ‘worth preserving’ and is a platform which can help in terms of submitting proposals for new things around the town, and is a good place to share points about what the community think Beeston could benefit from having or doing.

They’ve got a newsletter which can be found at Middle Street, which is the place to go for anyone who wants to talk with the volunteers working on the site. The next two weeks will see the centre hosting various events for Mental Health Awareness Weeks, and they’ll have an open day next Monday from 2-7pm, which people are encouraged to attend and get involved with.

All in all, the Let’s Go to Beeston website can only be a positive thing for the town and the volunteers working to make it the best it can be, and to provide an online space for residents of all ages and backgrounds to keep up to date with what’s happening.

You can visit the website at: http://www.letsgotobeeston.co.uk/

Huda and the Harasser

This article was a collectively written piece by ESOL students in Beeston, and is based on a real event. Some names have been changed.

Huda would usually give Beeston ‘Ten out of ten: it’s a place I felt safe in and liked to call me home”. But a terrifying series of events changed that for a while.

Huda came to Beeston four years ago. Originally from Egypt, she settled here when her husband got the chance to study for a PhD at the nearby university “It is a place I felt good about raising my children” she says “I love the community events, and always try and be part of what’s going on. It’s a town full of things to be involved with”.

One morning, this was to change. She noticed an elderly man staring at her on the street. At first, she didn’t pay much attention to this: strange, but not that unusual. Yet when he appeared outside her house, and appear every time she was out, she started to get scared “It was not really a fear for me, but a fear for my children. I couldn’t understand why he was doing what he was doing, but he kept following me, kept standing outside my house. You don’t know if this person could have a gun or a knife, or if they could suddenly decide to do something drastic”.

The worry got to her. While her husband was sympathetic, she found it hard to convey how the stalker made her feel. Plus, the intensity of working on his doctorate made Huda reluctant to keep mentioning it: he had enough stress with the workload. Yet the effects were getting stronger: she found herself placing a pushchair across the door at night to delay anyone breaking in. She changed the route she took to and from school, turning a five-minute journey into a forty-minute one. She struggled to sleep. “It sounds crazy. I taught karate in Egypt – I’m a black belt – and he was an old man. But fear makes you irrational”. Her love for her adopted town fell away “It was no longer ten out of ten. It was zero out of ten. I felt scared, lonely and isolated”.

Huda found she was not alone in being stalked: other women had suffered the same thing in varying degrees. Talking to them made her feel less alone, and let her see that this could be dealt with.

After two months, she visited the police to report the staling, but it proved fruitless. While they were generally sympathetic, as the man had not spoken to her, or tried to physically attack her, there was little that they could do. Bereft and scared, she mentioned her troubles to a member of staff at her SureStart centre.

This got things moving. Huda found she was not alone in being stalked: other women had suffered the same thing in varying degrees. Talking to them made her feel less alone, and let her see that this could be dealt with. Her teacher at SureStart made some enquiries, eventually contacting the local PCSO, a friendly woman called Paula. Paula listened, and while she explained that the man was known to them, and mental health issues led him to act in such ways. While Paula assured her he was probably harmless, she still recognized the trauma he was subjecting Huda to.

The PCSO could act as a community officer rather than a straightforward police officer, heading off trouble before it became a criminal issue. This is a vital and effective service, as proved by Paula’s intervention. She visited the stalker.

This worked. The stalker saw the damage he was doing, and as suddenly as it began, it stopped. That’s not to say Huda was instantly ok: she now carries a personal alarm and has the number of the PCSO in her phone. But she does feel secure when out and about and is enjoying Beeston again “The help I got, and how effectively it was sorted was wonderful. There are some very kind people here. I’m back to giving Beeston ten out of ten!”

 

Poetry For The Mind

(First published on Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature , republished with kind permission

Middle Street Resource Centre is an inconspicuous building. Long a feature of Beeston, its unassuming structure belies the vibrant creative activity within. The charity, Mindset, runs from here, lending support to those with mental health issues, and the socially excluded. It has been an invaluable asset for Beeston and surrounding areas, signposting and providing activities for those looking for them. The filmmaker Shane Meadows has run exclusive fundraisers at the centre, and it has gained plaudits from all quarters of the East Midlands, as well as from further afield.

There are a multitude of courses here for people to participate in, from music appreciation to carpentry. A beautiful, meticulously-tended vegetable garden is a testament to the work done by the volunteers who have made it their own. We at Nottingham City of Literature are here for a less green-fingered reason, though: to meet an inspiring poetry group that has just put out their first anthology.

The Middle Street Poetry Group was co-founded in 2014 by Steve Plowright, a local poet, songwriter, and craftsman who has been dealing with acute mental health issues for decades. Around the time of the millennium, he set his poetry down in a self-published anthology, Bi-Polar Rhythms: a raw, often terrifying look into his own chaotic head. The book is a visceral read, and it would be easy to assume that the writing process behind it must have been painful. Yet Steve also found that it had a remarkably therapeutic effect. As one of the group participants later comments [of writing poetry], “It gets my thoughts out of my head, and onto paper.”

However, the purpose of the group is not merely to provide catharsis. “It’s good fun,” Steve explains, as he sets up for the session. “People have to enjoy it.”

The group-members gather, some clutching their own poetry, some with other’s work. They form a circle, and with no real prompt, start to share poetry. Tom has brought along four poems, each one exquisitely crafted tales of his life – of alcohol and breakdown. The group listen intently. They discuss the poems afterwards, opening up to each other and exploring the meaning behind the lines. It would be too simplistic to label this ‘talking therapy’; it is a spontaneous discussion, with any therapeutic aspect merely a helpful by-product.

A cheerful older gentleman named Dennis tells me that he has only just started reading and writing poetry, at age 74. “I’ve always liked reading, just never poetry.” Has the group converted him? “Oh, yes. It’s my hobby now.”

Ray, a young man with his poetry in pixel form, ready to be read off his tablet, tells me how the sessions have boosted his social confidence; first encouraging him to read aloud to the group, and then to the general public.

It’s also an educational experience. In the previous week’s session, the chosen topic was the First World War. While the usual Sassoon and Wilfred Owen poetry was read, so too was that of the often-overlooked Irish war poets. Notable among these was Francis Ledwidge.

“I’ll go home and google poets and poems we talk about,” one member told me, “and then find something else, then something else. It’s constant learning in a subject I never thought I’d be interested in.”

Another member, Yasmin, found the session on war challenging but ultimately effective: “I like nice things,” she explains. “War, and talking about war – it’s horrible, horrible. But when I went home and my mind had thought through what we’d talked about, I felt a wave of emotion and empathy, which I’d have never been able to face before this. It had a huge impact on me.”

Nick brings in lyrics that he judges are more poetry, with a particular love of Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen. “So much can be poetry,” he tells the group.

Earlier this year, Steve realised they’d produced enough good poetry to justify putting together a collection, and thus Journeys Through the Mind came to be. A diverse and fascinating volume, beautifully illustrated, they’ve sold most of their initial run of 100 copies and are considering printing more. For most of the contributors, it’s their first time in print.

Poetry has proven to be a force for good with the group. They relish playing off each other, developing each other’s work, interacting and inspiring. Their weekly Monday meetings are looked forward to; they lend a crucial structure to the group and provide motivation for the participants.

“I get excited on a Sunday and re-read my poetry,” one of them explains. “I want it to be just right.”

The group are now hoping to take their book on tour and perform in public places. If you know of a good venue, or a similar group to collaborate with, please get in touch with us via the Contact Us page.

Beeston Bees

(Yes, it is all about bees).

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Roald Dahl once wrote a short story called ‘Royal Jelly’. It revolved around a beekeeper called Albert, who fed his family the bee food, especially his underweight baby daughter. The twist being of course, that he and his daughter turn into bees.

So I was wondering what I would expect when I met experienced local beekeeper Mary Venning, and her three hives, which are situated in the Wollaton Road allotments, one of nine in the area. “Did you know that Oliver Cromwell’s son in law gave this land in perpetuity? That was found out when they built the medical centre.” As anyone that’s visited the site will know, it’s a very big triangle shaped area. We reach Mary’s rather large growing space.  “This hive is the most productive at the moment,” says Mary, indicating a hive prominently placed and literally buzzing with the sound of bees. Mary then shows me her other two hives, which don’t seem to be as active. “The queen may have died in this one,” indicating a hive with very little activity around it.

Mary’s bees were also very busy around the parts that they make their honey in, that she had out on display  “They are licking all the honey off. Every little bit.” We watched as many, many bees were swarming round these honeycombs. “Bees have such different personalities. I used to have a hive where they were quite aggressive. But the ones now are friendly. People shouldn’t be anxious around them. Bees don’t like loud noises, people waving their arms around, or strong perfumes, as they might think you are a flower. Leave them alone, and they will leave you alone. If you do get stung, then pull the sting out and apply something alkali, like milk of magnesia.”

They prefer to gather nectar from open or tubed flowers.  Dandelions are the best plant for bees, as its nectar is already 50% food

I asked Mary how she got into beekeeping. “I studied the life of bees as part of my psychology degree. The nature of animals. I then did a beekeeping course when I retired. It was a weekend course over five weeks.” It is an expensive hobby. Did you know that once the queen has been chosen, she is fed royal jelly, created by worker bees?  You can see how enthusiastic Mary is about the insects. ‘Buzzing’, you might say as she imparts so much different information about them, quicker than I can write it down. “Bees hum in the key of C major.” Or, “They prefer to gather nectar from open or tubed flowers.  Dandelions are the best plant for bees, as its nectar is already 50% food. If only people would let a few dandelions grow in a patch of ground or in a tub, then that would be very helpful to them. Pussy willow and Hawthorne are also good sources of pollen.”

Mary then goes on to tell me about the worker bees’ waggle dancing, a figure of eight movement and how it informs the other bees about where the best pollen can be found, how far it is from the hive and if there are any dangers about. All this in very little, or no light in the hive.  She then told me about some joint research being done between Nottingham Trent University and the Centre Apicole de Recherche et D’information in France over the vibration of bees. Martin Bencsik at their Brackenhurst site is also looking at ‘swarm preparation’ that should aid beekeepers in the future, in that it may reveal health of bees and how the hive is doing.

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There have been a lot of stories in the news over the last few years about the vast reduction in bee numbers, due to a change in farming practices and the increase in chemicals that are used on the land these days. Bees are vital to the food chain with their pollination of plants and fruit trees. So the work that Mary does, and other beekeepers like her around the world are so important to the life of these interesting and much loved insects and, in fact, for us.

CDF

Street Art: Time to Act!

In the current issue of the Beestonian, we have an article about the potential street art project to lift up the tired dull mess that is Beeston Interchange / Birds wall. We can now tell you that the project has taken a huge step forward…

Beeston Square’s old dark walls (down Station Road and adjacent to Beeston Centre’s tram interchange) badly need an aesthetic lift.  We are planning a potential Street Art Festival for 2018 – a community regeneration project.

Broxtowe Council have an ‘art budget’ set aside which is £8k (subject to committee approval).  Artists are now invited to submit their work – the designs will ultimately be chosen by the council and its planning department but will be shown to the public who should have some say.

To give yourself the best chance of being chosen for this paid commission we suggest your designs are naturalist rather than brutalist.  It may also be advantageous to perhaps incorporate Beeston and Chilwell’s heritage and character somehow:

This Blue Plaque booklet is very useful – illustrating the area’s history and personalities https://beestoncivicsociety.files.wordpress.com/2017/03/blue-plaques-of-beeston-chilwell-broxtowe-2017.pdf

We have also put together a Dropbox folder of images/ideas to help inspire; including pictures of the buildings that were demolished for the current 1960s Square we are trying to improve, and more famous residents not featured in the Blue Plaque booklet. https://www.dropbox.com/sh/ecifyn29eros6z9/AAC6d6ttJN-u136ZsiayHAIPa?dl=0

Please do submit your designs to BeestonStreetArt@gmail.com by 31/8/17 if you would like to take part and join our Facebook group ‘Beeston Street Art Festival’ to stay in touch.  https://www.facebook.com/groups/178727832631780/

Best of luck!

Wall adjacent to Beeston Tram Stop

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