Monday, 16 September 2013

I Love Lincoln!

I've just been away to the Lincoln Steampunk Asylum for the weekend. This is an annual event, in its fifth year now, where strange Victoriana takes over some of the most historic areas of the city of Lincoln.

Here's a fine looking fellow at the street market just outside the gates of the castle. There were more stalls inside the castle, and members of the Asylum with wristbands could wander in and out for free all day. There was a Parade of Banners belonging to the different Steampunk societies, including the Third Foot and Mouth (named after the regiment in Carry On Up The Khyber), and a Wacky Races event with various interesting home made vehicles - including jet packs!

There was a Wild West shoot out, and a Brass Button Hunt. There was also a Steampunk market round the back at a local school hall, selling corsets and leather goods and jewellery, and events at the Assembly Rooms, and table top gaming at one of the local pubs, so there were people in costume wandering up and down the hill (and they weren't joking when they called it Steep Hill!) for the whole weekend, and gathering in various pubs and eateries, and generally having a good time.

I couldn't help but compare Lincoln to Hereford.

Lincoln has a very fine castle and cathedral at the top of the hill, with medieval buildings scattered down the hill to the river at the bottom. All over this area, there are small, independent, specialist shops - selling whisky and tea and fine sausages and vintage clothes and soap, as well as bookshops and restaurants and pubs. Further down the hill are the larger chain stores, mostly in buildings that date to the Victorian era or thereabouts. At the bottom of the hill, the High Street contains takeaways and smaller shops that sell things like second hand vacuum cleaners and so on. This is also where car showrooms are, and a big Wetherspoons that was once the Ritz cinema.
They have made good use of existing old buildings - a small chippy is housed in an octagonal building that originally housed machinery for the railways, for instance. Also along that stretch there are two (or possibly three) churches of Saxon origin, and there are also Roman remains. There are sign boards all over the older area of town describing the local history.
They also have public toilets - which are open - and lots of green spaces.
They advertise their green credentials with signs that describe local environmental projects.
There is a modern museum, which is light and airy and has a cafe. We didn't have time to look around, but what we saw of it when we went in to see the Steampunk exhibition was impressive. Nearby there is an art gallery.
There is also a university, with buildings dotted around the city.
The railway station has trees planted in front of it.
There seem to be frequent buses, and the taxis are reliable and reasonably priced.
And the locals are friendly, even to the odd people who turn up in elaborate costumes.

Why can't Hereford be more like that?

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