“I remember when all this were paper.” Is that what you think when you stand looking out across the local media landscape? It often feels like the once-dominant local newspaper industry has been bulldozed to make way for a bright new media estate of tweets, blogs, microsites, listing sites, Facebook posts and just about anything else that can be used to transmit news from person A to person B. Except that it’s not quite like that because somewhere in the middle of this confusing new landscape still stands the local newspaper, like a listed building surrounded by new-build.
But even that’s not a totally fair assessment either, for two reasons. The first is that the local paper, in our case Ye Olde Richmond & Twickenham Times, is not just some thatched cottage totally overshadowed by the new. It still has an important role, significant influence and is trying to adapt to the new world. The second reason the thatched cottage analogy doesn’t work is that when the going gets tough, the local paper is not a listed building that can be propped up by English Heritage or Lottery grants for historical or sentimental reasons; it’s a business and could quite easily suddenly stop being one.
TIMES ARE CHANGING
Why mention any of that? Well, sometime ago, many months if we’re honest, a message reached us asking if anyone actually read the Richmond and Twickenham Times anymore and “wouldn’t it be good to do a survey about it”? The answers to those questions are yes and yes. People still read it, businesses still advertise in it and angry residents still write letters to it. But all three of those groups also increasingly do those things online. The business of making actual newspapers out of dead trees is in serious decline. It’s only a matter of time before the traditional printed newspaper is found only in the world of Hoxton retro-chic.
There’s always something interesting about snippets of local history, whether old or recent, in the way they provide insights into the other people’s lives whilst adding colour and character to the places we know well. We’ve been asking you to submit your Twickenham memories on our “social history page” and we’ve had some great insights. With this particular tale we thought we’d give it an airing on the front page too. We’ve got all the classic ingredients: childhood memories, a long hot summer and a great local pub. And so, in this guest post, long term Twickenham and Teddington resident Dominique sketches a portrait of school holidays 1970s style in…
Cola, Rafts and Ladybirds
The White Swan
During the long hot summer of 1976 I spent as much time as possible at the White Swan pub in Twickenham; not because I was a kid who liked a pint in the heat, but because my best mate Vicky lived above the smoke-filled bar with her family.
There was a lot of fun to be had and mischief to get into over the river, away from grown-ups, and fuelled by bags of crisps. Another year and I’d be embarking upon the much trickier secondary stage of schooling; but now I had 6 weeks of glorious carefree holiday stretching ahead of me. Nothing could be better than spending it with Vicky at the pub. So I took myself off regularly at weekends, sometimes during the week too, and almost certainly outstayed my welcome.
A local Baptist Minister is making quite an impact with his book The Littlest Star as he raises money for a children’s charity. Here, author Richard Littledale tells the story so far…
“The Littlest Star is a charming children’s Christmas tale about one very little star and one very big night. Written on November 23rd 2011 by local author and Minister of Teddington Baptist Church, Richard Littledale, it was designed, illustrated, formatted, printed and brought to sale within a remarkable three weeks. Every penny of the cover price goes to Shooting Star Chase, caring for children and young people in the hardest of times. In the past 12 months the book has raised nearly £2,000 for the charity, exhibited at international book fairs in three countries, featured on local and national radio, and been translated into German. The book is available in all Shooting Star Chase shops and online.”
Sounds like a good pre-Christmas gift if you’ve got little ones.
UPDATE: And from 23 December it will be available as an audio download just in time for Christmas.
More information can be found on:
* Richard’s blog
* Or this ‘1 year on’ slideshow
And as festive season comes to a close, we’re saying a big old ‘thank you’ to everyone who made a donation to the local homelessness charity, SPEAR as part of our Christmas Appeal. Nearly £400 has been raised to help this Twickenham based charity with their great work across the Borough. If you want to make a contribution then you’ve still got time. You can go direct to the donations page or read more about why we’re doing this below. Thanks again for your support.
Right then, here’s an idea for you. It’s a project that needs you to get involved, write a few words and make it happen. Yes, you read that correctly.
Quite frequently, but perhaps not frequently enough, we ask twickerati readers if they want to contribute to the site. And some of you do. Thanks! Pubs, shops, polluted rivers, charity boutique chic, bringing up kids, the swimming pool to name a few; we’ve had some great articles.
Now, imagine what it would be like if we could have more contributions about Twickenham life – personal memories, if you will – that would not only make great copy on here but also become something of a permanent record of Twickenham past and Twickenham present.
After an epic journey around the streets of Twickenham involving hours of diligent note taking, we are able to bring you the great twickerati “Twickenham Shopping Index”. It’s not quite the Standard & Poor’s ratings index but it is a seriously considered (if amateur*) assessment of the prospect of the town’s sometimes successful but often beleaguered retail premises. Continue reading
Lookin’ good, King Street
The Twickenham Area Action Plan is now out for public consultation until 31 August after which a final draft gets submitted for central government review. If approved the plan will be formally adopted in 2013. And as part of the over-arching consultation on the Twickenham action plan, El Brute are also running a consultation on the street scene and highways, in other words those tricky but essential issues like traffic flow, parking, cycle lanes, widening pavements and the location of bus stops.
In life there are more questions than answers and in Twickenham, as you’ll have seen in our most recent High Street Update, there are more shop closures than openings. Or at least that’s the way it seems. Local independents such as Langtons and Par Ici have closed as have national chains such as Clintons. Add to that the turnover in cafes and restaurants and it’s not a pretty sight. The picture painted by Twickenham town centre is not one of a thriving, relatively affluent London suburb but of a town bumping along. It’s true that some of the new arrivals have been well received such as Laverstoke the butcher, Poundland (yes, really) and the transformed Sussex Arms pub, but look around and you’ll see plenty of “to let” signs above shops and offices.
The crucial question of Twickenham’s best pub was recently discussed on twickerati. It’s a toughie, a real toughie. But one pub came out of that particular survey very well. It used to be a little bit crap; now it’s rather good. In this review feature, Twickenham resident, pub-goer and beer drinker Newcastle Martin gets to grips with whether the revamped Sussex Arms really is the perfect local pub. Here’s his view.
The Sussex, Twickenham
Twickenham’s Perfect Pub?
In 1946, George Orwell wrote a famous essay on the perfect pub. He nominated a local called the Moon Under Water, specifying its good beer, popularity with regulars, open fires, decent food, friendly service, the “comfortable ugliness” of its Victorian fittings, ample garden and lack of ‘rowdies’ and radio. The only problem was that the Moon Under Water never existed — or at least it didn’t until many years later Tim Martin of JD Wetherspoon fame gave that name to several of the chain’s pubs, thereby creating a modern dystopia Orwell might have satirised.
Twickenham has its fair share of eateries. In fact it probably has more than its fair share. One might assume that a large number of restaurants and cafes is the mark of a thriving town but in Twickenham only a few are regularly full while some seem permanently empty. In this guest blog, local journalist Simon Hemelryk gives his views on the issue and looks at what, if anything, can be done to fix it. Got your own opinions or solutions? Why not add your comments below.
All Quiet on the Twickenham Front?
There’s a standing joke in my household about the number of restaurants, cafes and pubs-that-do-food in Twickenham. My wife has always reckoned there must be at least 50, but I thought it might be as many as 70. So, a couple of days ago, I cycled round the area and counted them.
The actual figure is 128. Yep, that’s one establishment for every 153 of the town’s 19,555 residents – from the Beefeater at the top of Sixth Cross Road, to the little café next to Marble Hill House, to La Cena close to Richmond Bridge. I’m not even including anything that could be said to be Teddington, Old Isleworth or Whitton, or takeaways that don’t have proper seating.
Amanda is a local Twickenham resident who is obsessed with cooking, crochet, all things vintage, and the “Twickenham Boutiques”. She writes the Vintage Savoir Faire website, where she learns to live healthier & more creatively through good food, kitchen remedies and handmade beauty products. In this feature she gives the twickerati the lowdown on boutique chic, Twickenham style…
Shop the Twickenham Boutiques
Feeling frazzled by the crowds in Kingston? Don’t want to make the long trek into London? Well, I’ll let you in on a little secret. Twickenham has some of the finest shopping in the borough – if you know where to look. Yes, Church Street is lovely – but it’s for amateurs. Serious Twickenham shoppers hit up the boutiques. The Twickenham Boutiques.
Not familiar with these exclusive retail establishments? That’s probably because they’re interspersed with regular shops on the High Street. The Boutiques like to keep a low profile. In fact, you probably walk right by them everyday. But The Boutiques are where all the best names of Twickenham do their shopping. From last season’s ladies clothing, to slightly scuffed shoes, to previously assembled jigsaw puzzles, to (slightly chipped) fine china and crystal – it’s all available at The Boutiques…