I am, as we draw closer to the local elections, alive to the danger of this blog becoming solely dedicated to the exposing the nonsense, ignorance and untruths of the Tories’ comedy candidate for Westborough, Daryl Peagram. Indeed, I’ve contemplated setting up a separate blog to basically fact-check everything he says.
So I do try not to make him the focus of my scrutiny too often, as much as anything to avoid inflating his ego.
However, with Daryl now having added not only a Facebook page, but a blog to his repertoire, I think this is going to be unavoidable. Especially given one of his more recent contributions, on the subject of Heath and Carby House on Victoria Avenue — a contribution I can only brand a disgraceful show of ignorance.
In what is turning into a series of “good news for Victoria ward” blog posts, I can now confirm that the new home of the Beecroft art gallery in Southend is pretty damn awesome.
When Ash and I moved into our flat, it was a source of annoyance that the library had closed just before our move in date. I rather liked the old Southend Central library, with its multiple levels and wide selection of books. The new Forum which replaced it, more centrally to the town centre, has amply provided for library coverage, but the move left a big, well-placed building going begging in the town centre.
The new Beecroft Gallery opened at the weekend, but it was only on my lunch break today that I actually managed to get down to have a look around. And I was impressed. It’s still a bit on the empty side, but I’m confident that it will fill out given time. There are already a few exhibitions there, one a photography exhibition on football stadia across Europe, and another exhibition of swimwear of the 1940s, 50s and 60s. Both are well worth a look, alongside the Beecroft’s own collection of Southend-related artwork.
I spotted a few excellent maritime paintings, which appealed to my own tastes.
The new gallery sits alongside Southend Central Museum — also well worth a visit — on Victoria Avenue, down the road from both the courthouse and the civic centre. This is what I mean when I talk about the potential of this area; with the regeneration of the other side of the road which is now very much on the cards, Victoria really does seem to be taking steps towards fulfilling its potential as a cultural hub.
When Ash and I moved to (or back to, in her case) Southend almost a year ago, we moved into Victoria ward, practically in the centre of town (Milton ward, I would say, has the honour of being right in the centre). This is a town centre area, hugely convenient for my own commute into London, and with all the incumbant advantages for a young professional couple who could do without the expense of a car.
It being a town centre area, though,it is not without its own issues. One of the big ones is Victoria Avenue.
This dual carriageway runs down towards the high street, and past the Civic Center, and is lined along one side with a great many empty office blocks. It is, honestly, not a good look. From the window of my flat’s front room I can see one great derelict hulk, all dark and broken windows like black eyes. And the letters FTP graffitied at the top (if the meaning is unclear, I will mention only that it sits opposite the police station).
It’s a sad state for the gateway to Southend town centre, and one which I understand has stood neglected for a long time even as people have pushed and pushed to get a plan in place.