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Green Light in the City


20 November 07 words: Matthew Goold
Culture runs deep in Beeston. It was mythically the source of Arthur’s Camelot and where would the fashion world be without Paul Smith?

There’s been talk of late of how Nottingham’s city border should be extended past Lenton, pulling Beeston to its breast. At first I was in favour; anyone travelling to Derby will see signs announcing their arrival in the city still bordered by fields, whilst our counterpart is stuck on Priory Island, a fume-choked roundabout with a Toby carvery.

However, after perusing the thought, and strolling round Beeston itself, I suddenly saw the folly in such a move. Maybe Beeston should actually claim more autonomy, I pondered. Maybe it should actually declare UDI.

So what would the poor man’s West Bridgford have to offer the world? Well, Beeston is the unknown capital of all that is great not just in Nottinghamshire, but England itself. If one postulates that the Trent is the divider twixt North and South, then Beeston is the North’s first town; the straddler of afternoon-tea drinking effettes and flat-capped Regal smokers.

Culture runs deep in Beeston; as the myth goes, it was originally the source of Arthur’s Camelot. Where would the fashion world be without Paul Smith, a Beeston lad? A lot less stripy, for a start. Little Barrie (of the band Little Barrie) picked up his first guitar in Beeston and went on to play with Morrissey, Primal Scream and his own outfit. One half of Bent is a Beeston boy, thanking the town and its residents in the sleeve notes of their first album (tellingly, the other one thanked ‘absolutely no-one in Stapleford’, his own town). Motown legend Edwin Starr died here and who can forget Corinne Drewery from Swing Out Sister? Well, the record-buying public obviously, but still.

No new country really feels comfortable with itself unless it has a sense of history, and once again Beeston excels. Bendigo, bare-knuckle champion, was Beeston. Hardest man ever, according to some. Gandhi came here in 1931, supposedly to see his cousin who studied at the University (by crazy coincidence, his biopic director Richard Attenborough is Beeston too - or rather Attenborough, which I have plans to annex once independence is declared).

Industry-wise, we have Boots and Marconi/Siemens/whatever within the boundaries, and everyone needs drugs and technologies (this article relied heavily on both). We also produce gravel, which has been important since the Flintstones. The Victoria Hotel has won numerous awards, as has The Bean, the coffee shop that keeps Starbucks from Beeston, and won an award in 2002 as the best coffee bar in Britain.

I could mention that Attenborough Nature Reserve was recently voted by the BBC as one of the top-ten eco-destinations in the world, the profusion of exotic food shops and the dirt cheap but excellently-stocked bookshop, but I won’t. I don’t want an exodus of non-Beestonites swimming over from Clifton or hijacking the Rainbow Five buses to stake their claim in this Klondike of the Midlands.

Beestonia sounds good. Its capital city will be the fittingly-named Imperial Road. It’s President/ Benign Dictator/ Emperor? Well… it was my idea.

History of Beeston website

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