CHANGES

Firstly, a blog that may upset some people, but “what I think”.

Scondly, written in haste! Lack of links and photos and date research all down to time constraints!

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Slightly ironic that in the midst of Heritage Open Days (weekend) it is announced that the Royal Victoria Hall in Southborough will be closing down in January, at the end of the Panto run. This is a matter that has been rumbling on for several years, and I don’t know all the details. I know we used to go there for the Panto when our children were small, but distance wise the theatre is a bit far from us to have an active involvement. It’s a Victorian theatre and in need of both updating and repair, and there aren’t the council funds to keep it going. There are also plans to re-develop the area, and proposals were put forward last autumn, so I suspect the heritage aspect of the theatre has been sacrificed for something else. Which does raise the question – is this all bad? If we never moved forward we would all still be living in caves….. and theatre would be round the camp fire…… So it remains to be seen what happens here, but I do think back to the changes that Canterbury has seen with the Marlowe Theatre since the one I saw Panto in during the 1970s.

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Yes, it’s Heritage Open Days, and while the news of RVH was breaking on the internet, I was in St Barnabas Church (Quarry Road, Tunbridge Wells) , a grand Victorian church (which replaced a smaller, original church). I only stopped in for a short time, Friends of Grosvenor and Hilbert Park have added their own history display to the immense one belonging to Geoff Copus, which covers the whole parish of St Barnabas, and many aspects from the former electricity works to Siegfield Sassoon attending church there with his family, travelling in from Matfield. One part of the park anyone over the age of 70 recalls is the open air swimming pool – something else that is now closed.. but gives us the space for a large playground and football/basketball courts. Much more useful in December than an open air swimming pool!

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In other matters yesterday, the local paper raised the concerns of TW Forum regarding the planning application for flats to be built nearby. The Forum aren’t the only ones with concerns – the Environmental Agency are concerned that a risk assessment hasn’t been carried out by the developers, as the site is a former petrol station, and local residents are concerned re increased traffic and privacy infringements. The Forum are concerned the plans don’t allow for being so close to a live music venue, and are urging people to sign a petition to the Culture Secretary, to set up the ‘agent of change’ principle. Full details in Frank Turner’s petition to Sajid Javid and you can help by signing and sharing.

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We had a quick drink in The Cross Keys pub last night, where it was Blues and Groove night. Mark Harrison and Charles Benfield were very good, but due to the nature of the pub, a lot of the music we couldn’t hear as it was drowned out by some ladies having a very happy supper. I don’t deny them their pleasure, they were there first – and there’s the ‘agent of change’ principle! But sadly for The Cross Keys it does show that free music in a pub where people have paid for dinner, means the dinner gains priority over the music – and why real, pay to enter, venues, need protecting, before it’s too late.

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