Rylands Retail Renaissance?

Where do Rylanders go if they need a pint of milk, a hair cut, or a bottle of wine? Not that surprisingly they can get all these things and more within the Rylands. What may be more of a surprise is you can also pick up a portaloo, a very good haircut, some vegan fast food, or even talk to an experienced Luthier (stringed instrument expert) on Lily Grove if you so wish.

We’ve had numerous shops here over the years, but if you a newcomer (or a resident of just the last 20 years or so) you’ll perhaps remember the post office on the corner of Trafalgar Road, the various food outlets on Lilac Crescent, or the afternoon tea shop on Trafalgar near the old Plessey site.

News and Essentials that most refer to as “the Cob Shop” is a ‘jewel in the crown’ of Rylands retail and has faced many challenges and reincarnations over the years. The vast shelves that held the extensive DVD lending library 20 years ago now bears a fantastic range of wines, chilled foods, cupboard essentials, and even has its own garden centre out the front. Winter hasn’t arrived until we see the Facebook post from owner Lloyd that sledges are out and ready for purchase.

After a conversation with Lloyd it became obvious him and his colleagues are driven by a  passion and enthusiasm for serving the Rylands. What we also learnt are his extensive ambitions for the shop and is commitment to supporting local charities.  The good news is Lloyd and his partners Pat and Andy are around to stay, having just signed a ten year lease.

While change is inevitable and bigger retail places may evolve, the strength of communities is measured in the power of its supporters. It’s lovely to hear about the days gone by and also see the enthusiasm of more recent businesses firming their roots in to the Rylands and creating new memories.

The resilience of our community really does offer hope and continuity, with creative and green-fingered individuals opening up pop up shops outside their front doors selling such things as rhubarb and gladioli or veg and bedding plants, or even something creative from local artists.

We’re also got the recent initiative of incredible edible project down at Leyton Crescent providing a sustainable healthy scheme that has been accessed by families, who have helped plant, grow and nurture the produce offering all in the Rylands delicious home grown veg in return.

Community at its best – use or lose it!


Janet Barnes and Naomi Robinson; Rylands community activists

Like a Boss!

An email pings into The Beestonian inbox: “Did you know we have the National Governing Body for a Paralympic Sport right here in Beeston?” Well, no we didn’t. Beeston consistently  punches above its weight – one of the reasons we set up this mag a decade ago – but considering that the Paralympics is imminent and one of its most fascinating sports is based here, we have to find out more. I jump on my bike and pedal round to one of the buildings near the Padge Road sorting office.

Boccia England (BE) have been based here for 3 years after moving from just over the Nottingham border in the Lenton Science Park with Cerebral Palsy Sport. “It’s ideal in many ways” Cally Keetley, BE’s fundraiser tells me “Being so central to everywhere in England”. Their office could be that of any modern office, apart from the floor, which is marked out with a Boccia court, and the set of leather balls on the table we talk at. What, however, is Boccia?

Considering it is perhaps the most inclusive sport in the world, it has probably not appeared on many of our reader’s radars. Pronounced ‘Bot-cha’ (the name is the Latin for ‘boss’) it’s one of only two sports at the Paralympics that doesn’t have an Olympics counterpart (the other being goalball). It resembles boules or petanque, with players trying to get their balls as close to a jack as they can. What makes it a wonderful sport for the Paralympics is its sheer accessibility: it can be played with hands, feet, or even for those with severe disabilities, a ramp to direct the ball. There are resources that allow the visually impaired to play, and, provided they stay seated, the able bodied can join in. It’s difficult to imagine a more inclusive sport.

Making it’s paralympic debut in 1984, it currently has 54,000 regular players spread over 60 clubs in the UK alone and is fast growing worldwide. And no wonder. A glance at Boccia games on YouTube  is not dissimilar to how people get drawn into seemingly simple looking sports and realise the fiendishly wonderful tactics required. Remember when the UK went curling crazy at a previous Winter Olympics, and we all became experts at broom technique and stone angling? Similarly, Boccia is a gripping sport to watch. “You haven’t seen sport until you’ve seen boccia” wrote Times sports editor Simon Barnes in 2012. He’s not wrong.

But it’s more than that for those who take part. “It’s a wonderful way for people to socialise, to have a challenge to work at, and to grow confidence” Cally tells me. “It changes people’s lives”.

It also saves them: “I had a real horrid time after my accident…Boccia pulled me round. It gave me friendship, it gave me skills…it literally saved my life” says one player in a BE video. Its amongst numerous testimonies saying similar: this is more than a sport.

But on a purely competitive level, things are gearing up ahead of the Tokyo Paralympics. Cally’s colleague, BE’s Team Administrator Dan Headley, is preparing to fly out to Japan when I visit in his role as an international boccia referee. “Boccia will be streamed online throughout the Games” he explains “And Team GB is confident of medals”.

His hot tip? “David Smith. It’s amazing he’s not better known”. Absolutely. David Smith, MBE, should be as well known as Mo Farah or Becky Adlington. His Paralympic medal haul – 2 gold, a silver and a bronze – when added to his multiple World and European titles makes him the world’s most successful Boccia player ever, an inspiration to those, like him, with Cerebral Palsy – and anyone who loves a world class athlete. He also pulls some mean doughnuts in his wheelchair.

They are doing great things down on Padge Road, and that work will hopefully pay off in medals at Tokyo – as well as giving many thousands of disabled individuals a sport that adds so much to life.

If you’d like to find out more, check out BE’s website: https://www.bocciaengland.org.uk/ where you’ll discover a huge amount of info and resources- including how you can help raise money for them.


Learn, Laugh, Live

Karen Attwood explains what is going to be out there for retired and semi-retired folk as restrictions ease.

I had my eye on Beeston u3a for quite a while. I had heard good things about it, but didn’t know the detail. Large groups of laughing people could be seen having lunch together, playing daytime tennis matches, walking and playing chess in the local cafe.

It turns out it is part of a massive national organisation, u3a, created in 1982. Before the lockdown, more than 40,000 u3a interest groups met in the UK every week, face to face and more recently lots of them have transferred online. It also turns out that membership is open to all retired or semi-retired people and there is no upper or lower age limit.

The idea is simple – interest groups, run by members for other members, all help given voluntarily. The u3a national body, the Third Age Trust, looks after all the u3as in the UK, providing educational and administrative support.

Although u3a formerly stood for ‘University of the Third Age’, the word ‘University’ has now been dropped in favour of a more inclusive sense of groups of people wanting to study or discuss a subject.

It will not surprise any local people to find out that Beeston u3a is one of the most active in the country! More than 800 members come together to enjoy 90 interest groups.

In June 2021, many members of Beeston u3a came together for a Virtual Afternoon tea to celebrate their 10th Anniversary. Several founder members spoke, sharing the most memorable stories from the last decade and the future was excitedly discussed.

This local u3a community kept in touch during the lockdown. Even though they could not meet in person lots of them learnt about Zoom and kept the groups going remotely. Hundreds of people joined in the monthly meetings from their front rooms. It is clear that this is more than just a series of interest groups – it is a supportive social network, with people enjoying life and passions and taking care of like-minded members who live just up the road.

Just after my husband retired and I slowed my own business down, in October 2019, we popped down to the Group Fair at the Pearson Centre. Before we rounded the corner from the library we heard the buzz! There was a very friendly welcome, rows of tables lined up and the hall full of passionate people trying to persuade us to join them. It was wonderful! Reminded us of a Fresher’s Fair.

Since then we have been experimenting with some things we haven’t done for years – Tennis, Cycling and Yoga. Also reconnecting with other former passions – Chess, Science, Languages, Art History and poetry reading. We have had nothing but friendly support and fun since we joined.

I have found it so refreshing to be much more defined by my interests rather than my job, background or even gender.

So, if you or anyone you know has stopped work, or slowed down, and fancies meeting new people and finding new interests, don’t hesitate to point them in the direction of Beeston u3a.

Many of the indoor groups kept going through lockdown and are active. Many outdoor groups are meeting up again, under strict Covid conditions. It is hoped to run the next Group Fair in March 2022.

Full details are on the website at www.beestonu3a.org.uk and we’ve just started a new Facebook Community Group page ‘Beeston u3a’


Beeston welcomes The Arc Cinema!

After many months where giant screens and sound systems were closed around the globe, as seats remained
empty, the film industry like many other industries made many changes to survive. Thankfully none of these changes stopped The Arc Cinema in our beloved Beeston from being built and opening its doors last month.

What have you missed the most? The epic big screens and surround sound that soundbars/speakers and even professional home audio set-ups just cannot provide? The feeling of sharing an experience with a room full of strangers in a darkened and magical space as the lights go down? Someone else making your much-loved popcorn? Or just being transported away for a couple of hours of immersion where no one can disturb you as you sink back in your chair to be entertained and turn off your phone?

For me, it’s all of the above and now with The Arc Cinema being only a 10min walk away, I’m very excited to get a new ‘church’. A cinema to me is honestly a place of worship, or appreciation and of faith. It's the place I learn, laugh and feel alive as I watch hundreds of stories a year unfold in front of me. For me, it’s all of the above and I’m very excited to get a new place and plan to escape regularly.

For those who don’t know me, I’m a true cinephile I’ve been going to the cinema, (or the pictures as my family fondly refer to it) multiple times a month since I was about 5. Not being able to go during the pandemic has honestly been one of the most difficult parts of lockdown for me. I’ve had a paid job as a film critic who used to get to run around London attending press junkets, seeing preview screenings in secret cinema rooms all over the big smoke (the best straight out of uni job!). For 7 years I even owned and managed the smallest cinema in the world (yes, really!) – Screen 22 in Nottingham town centre. So for someone who’s literally lived above a cinema having 8 brand spanking new glorious screens of mystery, full of new stories to be told and shared so close to my house is the dream.

The interior of The Arc is tasteful, classy and harks back to what cinemas used to look like, with bright stylised lighting and plush carpets, with the oh-so-familiar but missed smell of popcorn wafting through your nose as you enter. There’s a bit of a seating area for pre- and post-film drinks too and the place is, in a word, slick.

The Arc contains 700 luxury leather electric reclining seats in total and boasts laser digital projection and Dolby Digital 7.1 sound in 6 of its 8 screens. For the non-technical amongst you, that’s the most up to date way to view your cinematic content. The other two specialist screens are Hypersense, which use 4k laser projection and giant (14m) wall-to-wall screens, which in short means maximum impact and precision. Those seats are extremely comfortable and there’s a lot of legroom available!

Did you know that Nottingham once had over 100 cinemas? Back in times where going out to the flicks was an event that people dressed up for, smoked through and were seen at. In the days when cinemas showed
newsreels and not trailers, and there were double feature matinees for children of a Saturday afternoon.

The film heritage of Beeston is strong, beginning back as far as the early 1900s, when Waller Jeffs came to town with his travelling show. This included one of the first times that the general public could view film as a form of entertainment, with his shows performances attracting significant sized crowds daily. In 1907 a local Greengrocer, Henry Peberdy set up the Cozydrome and later Kozy Kinema, which were accessed down the alleyway which still exists next to Greggs, where punters were said to have paid pennies to sit on wooden benches and watch as the projector was hand-cranked and oil lamps provided the light. Sounds utterly magical to me.

A love of cinema continued in Beeston with many options available for fans to enjoy. Two larger cinemas of note were situated where Iceland and the Co-Op now stand. Others that older readers or the families of may recall taking trips to include:

  • The Palace Cinema – 1913 – 1960 
  • The Palladium – 1914 – 1959
  • The Astoria – 1936 – 1975 
  • The Majestic/Essoldo- 1938 – 1968

Over more recent years film nights and screenings have been run in Cafe Roya which used to host ‘The Beestonian Film Club,’ The Berliner has been known to host film nights and of course, the ol’ Barton bus depot, or The Garage as we now know it, event built a mini-cinema with authentically restored seats showing classics throughout the year. Now we welcome our new purpose-built cinema, Arc Cinema.

We now live in a world where some film studios will offer you the chance to watch a film at home for more than the cost of a cinema ticket, on the same day it’s released in cinemas. Some film studios are making deals where films are screened for as little as 17 days in a cinema before they can be streamed online and at home and moves are being made that will change the industry forever, changes that cinemas have tried to fight for decades. Is there a place for everyone in this new model?

Time will tell, but the highly desired new addition to Beeston is certainly proving popular and will hopefully be here for many years to come.

At The Arc there are plenty of discounts available keeping our visits to the pictures on the more affordable side; including:

● Meerkat Movies on Tuesday and Wednesday – giving you 2-4-1 tickets on all films,
● Kids club screenings for anyone attending at £3.50 a ticket on weekends and in school holidays
● Off-peak pricing before 5pm in the week,
● Family discounts and parent and baby friendly screenings too

Local resident and new cinema manager Caroline said:

“Myself and my team are delighted with the response from the people of Beeston in coming out in our first week to support us. Opening on a bank holiday weekend and into half-term week meant so many local people got to see what we have to offer, and we have seen many people returning already.

I am so pleased with the fantastic reviews and feedback we have received in the first week and I really do look forward to continuing to build on that success. Thank you for welcoming us!”


To find out more about Beeston’s new entertainment and be a part of their online community-

To see showings and make bookings visit their website – https://beeston.arccinema.co.uk

Halcyon Days

Remembering and celebrating events of the past is something we do often at Friday Club, we look at old photographs and watch video footage of Goose Fairs and other local events of the past, getting lost in memories of halcyon days gone by.

Recently we were remembering the Plessey Gala Day and members described fondly the rivalry of the inter-factory running races, the beauty competitions, various themed tents, and all the fun of the fair. They laughed when remembering the minor celebrities that would open the event. One year (we reckon in the early 1980’s) the famous Grand National winning race horse Red Rum made a guest appearance. They described gala day as “really exciting” with hundreds going, “it was always hot and sunny”.

Brenda remembered the wild boar roast on a spit. When asked if she had any, she said “No, I was too busy watching out for my four kids!”. She also described her sister Joyce, being crowned the first Beeston Beauty Carnival Queen. When asked if she was ever crowned the Beeston Queen, she laughed and said “nah, I was the youngest, I was just the Squirt of the family”.

Whilst most remembered the Plessey gala day fondly, a couple were more reflective saying that it was a bit ‘clicky’ and they often felt excluded from the fun if they weren’t part of certain crowd. Being ‘clicky’ is something that the Beeston Carnival could never be accused of, always a lovely day to be enjoyed by all. Sadly COVID 19, has led to the unavoidable cancellation of the Beeston Carnival for a second year.  

As a result of the disappointment of no carnival, and the lack of community events over the last 14 months, Beeston Rylands Community Association have decided to create its own outdoor gala event. The event will be held on Sunday 25th July at 12pm. 

We wanted to harness the remarkable resilience of the community and have something positive and fun to focus on as we finally (and hopefully) evolve out of restrictions. 

The day will be based at the community center and the surrounding fields and will host local charities and entertainment, food, and fun (Covid restrictions permitting). We might not be able to recreate the famous Plessey Gala Day, or provide a celebrity race horse to open proceedings, but we’ll have our very own Beeston Dog Show, and a variety of other things for everyone to get involved with and have a bit of fun.  

Perhaps one thing that can be taken from last year of uncertainty is that us humans cannot thrive in isolation, and that we are healthier and happier when we are able to connect and move forward as a whole. This is an event for everyone and we’re therefore open to suggestions from all members of the community, and if anyone is interested in having a stall, please contact Amanda–Claire- acemillington@gmail.com.

Fingers crossed for some sunshine in July!


Beeston’s Beautiful Classics

For a short period of time, Beeston built cars. Not on the grand scale of Dagenham, Cowley or Sunderland, but more of a cottage industry. Humber Works, on Humber Road between 1901 & 1908, and Middlebridge Scimitar on Lilac Grove, 1988 – 1995. All gone now of course, but their history lives on. If you want to see old vehicles these days, there’s Bartons in Chilwell, where you can see a number of their old buses and associated vehicles on Heritage Days or when they put on one of their Sunday markets. Or there’s the annual Autokrama at Wollaton Park, where a huge number of period vehicles are on display, usually in the summer sun. If you’re lucky, you can spot an old car on the streets of Beeston. I saw one the other day. A mid 70s Ford Granada. It got me thinking; I wonder how many vintage vehicles there are in the area?  So I put a message on Beeston Updated’s Facebook page, to see what response I might get.

I had some replies telling me about their vehicles. Carrying on with the Barton theme, here’s ‘Beauty’, a 1933 Riley Open Tourer, which has been in the Barton family for 48 years. Jeanie’s mum Barbara spoke to me about it. “We got the car from Gainsborough in Lincolnshire, as my late husband Elson wanted to be Bertie Wooster. I was invited out for the day on a ‘date’, which was to ‘look’ at a vintage car. The plan was to have a look and then go for a nice meal on the way back. We arrived at a smallholding in the countryside and were led to a barn where the Riley was stored. The car was dark green and although most of the bodywork was visible, the seats inside were covered with straw and chickens were standing on the footboards and bonnet!  They quickly fluttered away as we approached, and the owner quickly discarded the majority of the straw to reveal the very dirty seats.

A deal was struck and to my astonishment, I was ‘offered’ the chance of being towed back!  I recklessly agreed and a piece of polythene was placed on the seat for me to sit on.  I was given a large white handkerchief to hold and was told to wave it if I had any problems. We did a few miles and then I smelt burning. I waved the hankie and we slowed to a halt.  Being rather nervous, I had been braking rather a lot and the smell was coming from the brake discs which were very hot!  After they had cooled down, I was told not to use the brakes unless considered absolutely necessary! We set off again and reached the “Rose Cottage” restaurant. We sat down to a lovely meal and a much needed drink, before setting off again for Beeston”.

Jim Goodinson lives on a canal boat in the Rylands. He currently owns three classic cars; a 1961 Ford Popular, a Hillman Minx from 1963 and a 1988 Ford Fiesta. I met him on Canalside by his boat, with the nice smell of burning wood emanating from the stove and asked him about his small collection of vehicles. “I’ve had the Pop for about six years now. I saw it on Ebay, but just missed out. The winner didn’t go through with it, and as I was the second chance bidder, it was offered to me. I had to collect it from Sandy in Bedfordshire. It’s done 68,000 miles. Classic cars tend not to do that many miles in a year. That’s why we get cheaper insurance. She’s called ‘Bertha’. I’ve kept her in the original condition. As I prefer it that way”.

“I got the Hillman from a friend who lives in Bingham. We used to see each other at car shows. He kept pestering me to buy it. In the end I did. ‘Hilda’ has only done 11,000 miles. It’s beige and cream. It’s not here at the moment. It’s stored at a garage in Beeston. Do you know what, the biggest cost to owning a vehicle isn’t insurance, but storage.

Lastly Jim talked about the red Fiesta that’s parked in front of the black Ford. “It was my son’s and he wanted me to buy it. He’s made a few changes to it. Different tyres, lights etc. I might change it back. I’ve got all the old parts in the lock up. She’s called Phyllis.”

Noticing Jim’s accent, I ask if he comes from Bolton. “Yes. I was a centre lathe turner for nine years during the 70s. Most people think I come from Yorkshire. So you did well to spot it”. I of course asked if he knew Fred Dibnah the famous TV steeplejack and traction engine driver. “Yes, I knew him. Sometimes I made parts for him. He lived just down the road from me”.

The sun starts to set as I said goodbye to Jim, who’s waiting for his son to arrive for tea. I think it’s great that people strive to keep old vehicles on the road and find it exciting to see one, rather than the usual homogenous looking cars that are produced now.

If you would like to see your vehicle in a follow up article, then please do get in touch. I’d be interested in featuring any road vehicle made up until the late 1980s.


The power of friendships, old and new

When living and working in the Rylands you become very aware of the long-established families and friendships within the community. What’s less obvious are the new relationships and friendships being formed through social groups such as Friday Club (the weekly social dining club for the over 60’s). Here’s the story of two Friday Club regulars Peggy and Freda, and what their friendship means to them.

Around two years after her husband’s death, Peggy was only going out to do her shopping and was struggling with her grief and feeling lonely. She was told about Friday club through a friend in the Rylands. She went the first time with a friend and started to look forward to going. Freda joined the group a little later and in Peggy’s words their “friendship just exploded from there, it was so easy to be friends with her they just clicked straight away.”

The first adventure was to Bardills garden centre and they started walking together locally once or twice a week. They attended Janet’s 24-hour danceathon in October 2019 where
they danced and laughed the night away till 4 am.

Their birthdays are two weeks (plus ten years) apart and they started a tradition of having fish and chips on Queens Road to celebrate. Social distancing wasn’t going to deter their
friendship this year as they sheltered on opposite ends of the bus shelter to enjoy their feast.

Peggy shared that if she didn’t have Freda she might have not gone out as much over lockdown and have “locked myself away again – I am really pleased about being friends, we
can just laugh and be at ease.”

Following the death of her husband Bob, Freda moved to Beeston to be nearer her daughter. Freda knew no one else, and would just go walking. Like Peggy, Friday Club was
recommended to her, and a regular called Frances met Freda at the car park so she didn’t have to go in on her own. At her first meeting, she sat between the regulars Peggy and
Sheila where there was a space. Peggy, Sheila and Freda just got chatting, and after a while, she started joining them on little trips to places like the film club at the heritage centre.

Sadly Sheila passed away, and Peggy and Freda’s relationship just developed. Freda explained that they go walking and have little adventures, “It’s just nice – and it’s a laugh. We
speak every day on the phone. She came to my birthday party last year and my 70th this year so she knows all the family – they think Peggy is lovely and they’re amazed at how I’ve
opened up. When I have bad days – sometimes she senses it – it’s weird.”

Peggy explained that another Friday club member has christened them the “lively birds” – “lets face it, we all know each other at Friday club, before Friday club when my husband was still alive I would see people around the Rylands and say hello, but life was so busy I never really knew them. Friday Club brings people closer together, we all have grief in common, friendship is important. I don’t laugh with anyone else as much as Freda.”

Friday Club is open to all residents over 60. Meetings are every Friday between 1.30 and 3.30 pm for food, friendship and fun. Since the latest COVID-19 restrictions it’s changed to
phone calls, Zoom meetings and food deliveries, but Friday club will be back as soon we can meet safely again.

JB and NR

Beestonians through lockdown: Suzanna Plimmer, secondary school teacher

How volunteering for a foodbank opened a Beestonian’s eyes…

We were told by my school that we’d be off for two weeks, so leave everything on our desks and we’d be back in a fortnight. That night, Boris told us we’d be having the full shutdown. I’ve got three kids away at different unis, so I called them home – get back quickly. One of them, studying in Liverpool, thought it was all a fuss about nothing. I didn’t get to see her for six months.

I had a couple of weeks just doing my Joe Wicks and whatever, but I felt in limbo. I was sewing scrubs and that was something, but I felt I needed to do more.  I went to my local Co-op and said: “If you want me to help stock the shelves then I’m happy to help”. Remember, back then it was hard to get anything, and I thought volunteering to help might make it easier for them, and for my community. They said yes, and I got to work.

One night, the manager told me he was sending a load of food down to the Haven food bank in Stapleford. I was curious, so found out more, and ended up asking a bloke working there, Richard (Macrae, Stapleford Community Group Director and local councillor) if I could volunteer more. I started by going to the food bank twice a week at the food bank picking the food. There’d be people with short term needs, people with long term needs, people with mental health issues: we’d serve them all. I was shocked at how many people needed help.

I moved on to deliveries, and what shook me was how there were people I knew, who never in my mind did I imagine they were needing help. I visited one set of flats, a building close to me which I had somehow not really noticed before. I gave the woman living there some nappies. She burst into tears: her baby hadn’t worn nappies for two days. That moment did something to me. I thought how the evening before I’d opened my fridge and thrown away all the crap I hadn’t yet eaten that week. I was struck by what a waste it all was: I could afford to throw food away while this poor woman couldn’t afford nappies.

Since then, I only buy exactly what I need, nothing else. It’s morally corrupt to throw stuff away. I will never do so again and will encourage others to do so. I take my lunches to work, and every scrap of leftovers is eaten. Until I worked at the food bank I didn’t know the extent to which this was all happening. We’re a rich nation, yet people have to rely on these silent heroes to help them. The last few months have given me the opportunity to have some clarity. Life before was a hamster wheel, working long hours and not having time to think about much outside work. I’ve seen what is important and what isn’t important.

Broxtowe Community Projects

Ever wondered what has happened to the old Carphone Warehouse shop on Queens Road? It is now occupied by Broxtowe Community Projects, who have been in there since the start of November last year.

The project is a self-referral foodbank covering all of the Broxtowe Borough Council area, which was originally set up in the Labour office on the High Road. ‘Self-referral’ means that anyone in need can go and request help, rather than having to be referred by social services or other agencies.

As well as collections, volunteers deliver food parcels throughout the borough. The service is open on Mondays from 10am to 1pm and delivers on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. This covers all of the borough, across to Stapleford all the way up to Kimberley and Eastwood.

The project runs on donations from the public, as well as supermarkets. As well as food parcels, those in need can also be provided with toiletries, nappies, formula milk etc.

Anyone wanting to donate can take items during opening hours. If that isn’t possible then there is a collection point outside. What is working really well is neighbourhood collections that can be taken to the project in one go during opening hours.

Donations that are most useful are pretty much anything that has a shelf life – tins, packets and jars. Especially breakfast cereals and porridge oats, tins of soup, tinned meals such as chilli con carne or Bolognese sauce, rice, pasta, spaghetti. Also toiletries, nappies etc.

As well as serving those in need, each Saturday from 10.30am to 12.30pm the project is open to anyone who wants to come and take surplus food in exchange for a donation. As well as raising much-needed funds, this also eliminates a lot of food waste.

The project is always on the lookout for volunteers, so if you have time to spare then get in touch and see how you can help – 07434 664 174 or email broxtowe.cp@gmail.com

To keep up to date with what is happening at the project, follow them on Facebook here. 


#Beeston2020Vision a glimpse at the future

Since January last year an independent group of individuals, inspired by the past and passionate about the future, has been encouraging an online conversation about the future of Beeston. They did so in anticipation of a special #Beeston2020Vision event planned at the Pearson Centre – initially intended for May 2020, but now postponed twice by the pandemic until some safe point in 2021.

This simple step of seeking creative ideas to help shape our town over the next decade continues, with each delay drawing more contributors from a broad spectrum of the Beeston community from the Mayor down.  Their responses show how tapping the imagination and insight of Beestonians can contribute to a depth of understanding when creating a diverse, independent and vibrant future.

We can use this information to begin to unpick why Beeston is special, what makes the town centre tick, what becoming an exemplar carbon-neutral community might mean and much else besides. There are exciting project ideas, thoughts on lockdown and much more.

The #Beeston2020Vision project stems from ‘The Story of Beeston’ written by local historian David Hallam and commissioned by CP Walker and Son to mark their 120th anniversary, and from an earlier Vision for Beeston event sponsored by the Beeston and District Civic Society in 2017.

Why is Beeston special?

We are special because of a rare mix of good fortune. As a diverse community, we share a riverside location with a world-class nature reserve, close to the City and to the University. Grace Li, (Youth Mayor Broxtowe, 2019-2020) describes with pride her experience of growing up in a lively, creative, multi-generational and multi-cultural Beeston, well connected to a wider world.

Others refer to a welcoming, tolerant and resourceful place, where community action is shaping our lives. Volunteering is at the heart of the success of the Attenborough Nature Reserve, the recent Canalside venture, station improvements and other initiatives – channelled through strong local institutions such as the Middle Street Resource Centre, Beeston Library and the Pearson Centre.

Jeanie Barton, notes just how many creative people live in Beeston, including musicians of all genres, plus poets, writers, film makers, graphic designers, photographers, dancers, actors, presenters, painters and so on. She describes it like Camden without the physical vibrancy, leading Jeanie to start the Beeston Street Art project to reflect and encourage the abundant creativity of our town.  Attractions and events help the retail experience and cultural vibrancy is attractive to residents too.  She believes that creativity is a unique selling point for Beeston that will continue to bring in visitors from far and wide.

David Hallam sees Beeston is a resilient community that has successively and successfully reinvented itself over the past 120 years to meet changing needs.  Public initiatives will play an important part in future change, but input from all who care about our future – that should include all of us – is essential and can make a difference by developing ideas and driving them forward.

Managing a changing town centre

David Hallam also notes that towns are judged by their centres, now increasingly under threat by out-of-town shopping and on-line buying. Encouraging places where people can relax with a coffee and more has worked well in Beeston, but Covid and increasing on-line shopping has accelerated this threat to retail. He suggests encouraging a sustainable number of demand-led retail outlets, returning empty units to residential use.  This could be transformational especially if coupled with more green space.  An agreed strategy to protect and manage the High Road area might protect us from the worst of market forces and help to achieve longer-term objectives.

Nelson Blackley suggests that the future of Beeston town centre depends on flexibility and resilience; localness, connectivity and greening. He notes that pre-pandemic Beeston had a retail vacancy rate of 5%: lower than the national average of around 12%, while above-average numbers of hair, beauty and nail salons, barbers and estate agents reflect the relative health of the personal care and property markets in our local economy. At the same time, Beeston had only around 5% of its total shop units occupied by local and national charities, that is below the national average of 8% for towns of similar size.  Beeston could do with a marketplace or public square where people can gather, as Beeston Square is too off-centre on the main retail axis of Chilwell Road and High Road to fulfil that function.

Peter Swann, praises Beeston as a good local retail centre, with many excellent shops, cafes and restaurants and with much of the High Road pedestrianised, yet Beeston does not achieve especially good ratings in the league tables produced by various consultancy companies.  These rankings are designed for high streets and retail parks that have many of the big brand chain stores, and that sort of measure does not do justice to the things that Beeston does well.  Peter would like to see a new sort of location ranking emerge, which is not so preoccupied with big brands but tries to measure how well a retail location serves the diverse needs of a local population. Such an index would go beyond existing measures of retail quality to consider rankings for retail diversity, sustainability and a healthy independent sector, doing justice to things that make Beeston special.

Beeston as an exemplar sustainable community?

On broader issues, Gary Smerdon-White believes that a sustainable carbon-neutral policy will be central to every aspect of future town development, design and construction over the next decade.  Embedding sustainability into all activities, developments and programmes will help climate change, enhance air quality and improve our health and well-being.  Gary would like to see Beeston and Broxtowe working with the City to become a medium-sized town exemplar in sustainability.  He develops this theme in the contexts of the built environment, transport and travel, suggesting Beeston as a working hub for green technology.  Considering the extent of detailed individual adjustments necessary to make this happen, he asks whether we are ready for this challenge?

Creating a green corridor and other proposals

Giving Beeston a bio-friendly makeover need not cost the earth and we could create a lush green environment as part of that process.  Robert Howard proposes an imaginative green canopied corridor from the Square via the High Road and Broadgate to the University’s West Entrance to restore a sense of vibrancy and difference. A continuous canopied run on both sides of the High Road, with well-placed wind breaks, could be achieved in stages over time as resources permit. This practical idea is the incremental extension through enterprise and partnership of our present green pedestrian area. As the climate warms, so trees, shade and breezes become ever more important.

Inevitably there are many other possible projects.  Based on experiences elsewhere Ian Culshaw would like to see locally run cafes in the town’s parks to encourage safer use.  He would also like to see less plastic, fewer pubs, more clubs and more focus on younger people. There is an idea for a bee based town trail and app, stimulated by the Beekeeper. Opening up more of the town centre to pedestrians and a performance and exhibition space like Lakeside are other suggestions.

Lesson from Beeston in lockdown

There are thoughts on lockdown. Working from home can be empowering for some – avoiding commuting makes the day longer, healthier and our world more sustainable. We are getting to know our neighbourhoods and our neighbours more intimately by exercising on foot, while more individuals, families and communities are volunteering. Lockdown highlights Beeston as a place of gathering that satisfies a real need, but social media is no substitute for face to face contact. Proximity, rubbing shoulders, handshakes, hugs, are all things that we have come to miss.

That said suburban settings like Beeston are well placed to meet the needs of a more home-centred world.  Our town is big enough to support supermarkets and small enough to be conveniently accessible on foot or bike, which makes it healthy for us and good for the planet.

Our past suggests that meeting changing needs is a tested survival strategy. If we want Beeston to continue as a shopping and services centre we must plan to meet needs that cannot be met easily online and as individuals and as businesses we must use our local services if they are to survive. Council-led initiatives have a role in supplying a policy framework with clear objectives.

What can you contribute to the diversity, independence and vibrance of Beeston?

Rex Walker defines modern-day Beeston by its diversity, independence and vibrancy.  We are not a homogeneous community. It is the interactions and combinations that make Beeston a special place. Traditional town centres will continue to face overwhelming pressures over the next decade, but building our way out of trouble should be much more than a numbers game.

Developing pride of place starts with accepting and celebrating the town’s individual character.  In ten years time, each of us might look back and ask “how did I contribute to the diversity, independence and vibrancy of Beeston in the 2020s?” What will your answer be?

There is no shortage of ideas, but we would like to encourage more. Check out the Beeston Vision corner of the C P Walker website for yourself and the Facebook page, or contact us directly by email at beeston2020vision@gmail.com


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