So the Cornhill is finally finished (almost – the handrails for the Town Hall steps have yet to be fixed). What have we gained, what benefit has the revamp brought to the town? It would be difficult to comment on the market which is certainly smaller but this is surely down to the Covid crisis rather than the move into Princes Street.
It is also difficult to comment on the attractiveness of the fountains given that they haven’t, until just recently been switched on this year. No children playing, adults sitting in deck chairs fascinated by the dancing waters and no Cornhill activities, this wretched disease kills almost everything.
The drabness of the previous scheme has mellowed, the grey green concrete standing stones (Cornhenge) have gone, and the dominance of the slate grey street furniture, although still there, is reduced by the new white planters – almost limestone troughs in appearance.
The difference is that limestone troughs are not indigenous to East Anglia and the real thing develops a patina of lichen, moss and natural weathering. The Cornhill planters are more likely to attract an urban patina of cigarette stub marks, the scuffs and scratches of being in a town centre and the residue paint from where the graffiti has been removed.
Above: The Town Hall from Cornhill ,September 2020.
From a personal perspective they create a visual barrier between the open square and the Town Hall, a wall that separates when the original criteria was exactly the opposite. You may recall that the first schemes, those short-listed from the architectural competition, all had the level platform of the Cornhill extending right up to the ground floor of the Town Hall. These schemes were rejected because of the plethora of steps.
Some good news: your Executive met face to face at the beginning of September, outside and socially-distanced around a table tennis table and we decided to progress with arrangements for members to come together. (I write this as the beginning of the 'second wave' becomes apparent and just before the limit of six people gathering was imposed).
Firstly, I will lead a couple of short walks exploring the history of the town and port, the walks will obviously be outside, party size will be limited to fifteen and individuals can maintain their own space away from others in the party.*
Secondly, we are making the necessary early arrangements for three Winter Talks in Museum Street Methodist Church, these are potentially more risky and we are relying on the 'R' rate falling (rather than rising as it is right now). We traditionally meet on the third Wednesday evening of the month so the January Newsletter will have the latest details.*
It will be necessary to book (such that we can limit numbers) and indicate the number in your 'bubble' (chairs will be arranged in small clusters). You may want to mark January 20, February 17 and March 17 in your diary. The AGM is planned for April 21 either 'face to face' or by using Zoom depending on how things develop.
[* both these ventures are dependant on the prevailing restrictions at the time.]